After months of campaigning and millions of dollars, it’s finally here—primary election day. And maybe you haven’t noticed.
Secretary of State Sam Reed optimistically projected 46% voter participation in this August primary, based on past presidential primaries. But so far, many counties have reported fewer than 20% of ballots returned. So either the Olympics and the nice summer weather have people procrastinating, or there just won’t be that many voters when all ballots are counted.
If you haven’t voted yet, your ballot must be postmarked today, or dropped off by 8 p.m. Starting at 8 p.m., counties will count votes and we’ll have results on KONG-TV 6/16 in our special Decision 2012 coverage.
A quick guide on what to watch:
Battle in the First: You may have seen the ads on TV for this one, as seven candidates are vying for an open seat in Congress. John Koster, as the only Republican in the race, is expected to be one of the top two candidates who survives the primary to compete in the November general election. So who runs against Koster? Democrat Suzan DelBene has outspent her opponents by about four-to-one, putting her own money into the race. Will her commercials be enough to edge out her fellow Democrats? She’s running against Darcy Burner (who has significant name recognition from her two runs against Republican Dave Reichert for Congress), State Senator Steve Hobbs (who prides himself on being a moderate Democrat), businessman Darshan Rauniyar (with his compelling immigrant story) and former State Representative Laura Ruderman (hoping to make a political comeback). Larry Ishmael is running as an independent.
For years, Democrat Jay Inslee represented Washington’s first district. He resigned earlier this year to focus on his race for governor. There’s an odd election to replace Inslee for the remainder of his term, which basically means voters in the old First District will be electing someone to serve one month. Then, there’s a separate election, the hard-fought race for Congress for the next two years. Since Inslee vacated the seat, the state redistricting commission dramatically changed the boundaries and created a swing district. The new First District includes the north sections of King County, including Medina, Kirkland and Redmond, as well as rural areas of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties up to the Canadian border.
Governor’s race: Both Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee fully expect to be the top two candidates who survive the primary, and they’re both lowering expectations by telling reporters they’re going to come in second. This is the first chance for voters to weigh-in on this race, so there will be a lot of interest in how the candidates fare. Inslee was the first to get his commercials on TV and our recent KING 5 poll shows he has momentum. But keep in mind, it’s a different, smaller set of voters who participate in the primary so take Tuesday’s results with a grain of salt.
Attorney General: Republicans Reagan Dunn and Steve Pidgeon, and Democrat Bob Ferguson compete to replace Rob McKenna. Our poll finds these candidates have very little name recognition, especially outside of Puget Sound. We also find it could be quite close.
State offices: We’ll see which two candidates survive to compete for Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor (Brian Sonntag not running for re-election), Secretary of State (Sam Reed retiring), Insurance Commissioner and Commissioner of Public Lands.
Other races to watch: Through redistricting, Congressional seats such as the 2nd (Larsen), 8th (Reichert) and 3rd (Herrera) have been made safer for incumbents. Worth watching is the 9th district, where Democrat Adam Smith has all the advantages of being an incumbent, but his district has changed significantly.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell is up for re-election as well, and has a significant financial and name-recognition advantage over her Reupblican opponents.
And, if Republicans have any chance of taking control of the state senate, they need to have some promising showings in some key races.
While this is generally a top-two primary, in which the top-two candidates regardless of party continue on to the general election, there are some races which could be decided in the primary. The schools superintendent and judicial races, including State Supreme Court, can be decided if more than 50% of voters select one candidate. That means for example, that in the race for State Supreme Court position 8, where only two candidates are running, the race will be determined in the primary.
Meanwhile, watch some local ballot measures, including a library levy in Seattle and a juvenile justice measure in King County.
We’ll see you tonight on KONG at 8:00 p.m. as results come in.