Spokane County released results for about half of the 72,000 ballots cast in the primary election last night, with another batch set to be counted and released by 6 pm tonight. (Just a reminder: Washington's weird top-two primary sends the top two vote-getters to the general election regardless of party affiliation, so don't be shocked to see two Dems or two Republicans duking it out in November.)
Oh Sarah Palin, where are you now?
Tea Party fave Clint Didier cooled off quickly despite (or because of?) the Palin shout-out and finished a distant third behind the incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and – ta-da! - Republican Dino Rossi, famous for falling just short in the bruising, late rounds of the last two heavyweight governor’s bouts.
This race has even higher stakes – enough to bring President Obama to Seattle on election day – with possible control of the Senate on the line.
Expect plenty of sound and fury in a race that’s likely to be as
much a referendum on the policies of Presidents Bush and Obama
as anything else. (Kevin Taylor)
Get your weather jokes ready — Romeyn's in
We know there are going to be a million of these witticisms in the coming weeks so we’ll get ours out of the way this instant: “Hey Daryl, what’s the long-term forecast for November 2?” That the Fifth District congressional race has come down to incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers and former KREM weathercaster Daryl Romeyn is one of the goofier, smile-inducing surprises of Tuesday’s primary.
Romeyn predicted in last week’s Inlander that he would make the top two, despite having no money and no political experience. McMorris Rodgers is a rising figure in the Congressional GOP leadership and has more money than Romeyn on the order of, oh, one million dollars! But while McMorris Rodgers is part of the GOP leadership strategy to retake Congress by obstructing or filibustering Obama initiatives, Romeyn turns those votes against her by calling them detrimental to ordinary people in the district.
Could get stormy. (Kevin Taylor) Read more about this race
Marr safe, but trailing
No surprise that incumbent State Senator Chris Marr (D) and his challenger, Michael Baumgartner (R) both made it through to the primary — they were the only ones on the ballot. What is a little surprising is that Marr is trailing at press time by almost three percent. Allegations of carpet-bagging have dogged Baumgartner, creating fractions within his party, but just being a Republican appears to give any candidate a several-points boost in this election.
The Marr-Baumgartner fight has been fairly nasty already — don't expect it to get any cleaner between now and November. (JS) Read more about this race ---
Republican fervor in the Third?
We’re not sure if voters in the Third Legislative District have just had enough of the Dems or whether Republican Dave White’s pro-pot agenda brought some young liberals to his side of the table. Whatever it was, the race’s only Republican is leading, with 30.37 percent of the vote, a hair past Democratic nominee Andy Billig’s 29.46 percent. Social worker Louise Chadez and no-nonsense Councilman Bob Apple don't appear to have made it through the race.
The Billig-White race will pit Billig’s business background, name recognition and big money against White’s calls for smaller government and lower taxes (except on marijuana, of course) for the November election. The 3rd has been a Democratic stronghold in years past – and Billig’s war chest might maintain that legacy – but with White’s apparent appeal, things could get interesting downtown. (Heidi Groover) Read more about this race
John Driscoll against John Ahern. That matchup may sound familiar if you were alive during 2008, when a race between Ahern and Driscoll ended up so close (74 measly votes) their race resulted in an automatic hand recount. It looks like we'll get a rematch, with Democrat Driscoll (41.5 percent) and Republican Ahern (33.1 percent) both topping Republican Shelly O'Quinn (25 percent).
Of course, this time, conditions are different. On one hand, Driscoll is the incumbent this time, not Ahern. Typically, being an incumbent is an advantage in a local race. But on the other hand, national commentators opine, conditions may not be as favorable for Democrats as they were in 2008, the year of Obama. Not a great time, they say, for incumbents either. If the full percentage of Republican voters who voted for Shelly O'Quinn, voted for John Ahern, he'd win by 58.5 percent-- easily besting Driscoll. Of course, that's a big "if." O'Quinn is more moderate and middle-of-the-road than Driscoll. Theoretically, then, her voters could swing either way. (Daniel Walters) Read more about this race
Mager dominating, French fighting for second place
Though it's not entirely surprising to see incumbent County Commissioner Bonnie Mager (D) leading the race so far (with 47 percent of the vote), the fight between her Republican challengers seemed like it could be a toss-up. And it sort of is. Former Spokane City Councilman Al French leads the race for second place, with 17.87 percent of the vote, but former lawman Jeff Holy is nipping at his lead (with 15.7) and pro-business Steve Salvatori (15.14) isn't far behind.
Should be an interesting race if these results hold, though. Mager won her first term on the commission campaigning for smart growth; pro-development Al French would make three like (Republican) minds on the commission. (JS) Read more about this race
Boss vs. Employee in the general
If things weren't awkward enough inside the assessor's office, they're about to get awkward-er. With about 52 percent of the ballot, it looks as if the two assessor candidates moving on to the general race are incumbent Ralph Baker (30.8 percent) and appraiser Vicki Horton (21.2 percent) — who is currently one of Baker's employees.
Software engineer Andrew Jackson (19 percent), backed by the whistleblower who exposed a large swath of undocumented properties in the assessor's office, meanwhile, is breathing heavily down Horton's neck, separated by only around 1,500 votes. The race could easily change when the final ballots total rolls in.
If not, the question is how the remaining 49.7 percent who voted for neither Horton or Baker will vote in the general election. Perhaps, now that their favored candidate has lost, either remaining candidate has their vote. But if they were voting specifically against Baker, Baker has a difficult campaign ahead of him. (Daniel Walters) Read more about this race
Tucker stays alive (barely)
People have been talking smack about three-term incumbent Steve Tucker for years – how he plays golf more than he tries criminals, that he messed up by not going for the death penalty on serial killer Robert Yates – but Tuesday night may be the first time Tucker’s felt a splash of cold water.
He’s still in the race to keep his job. But he’s not the first choice among voters in the primary. That fell to the lone Democrat in the crowded field, 67-year-old attorney Frank Malone, who leads Tucker by about 2,000 votes. Malone promises to personally try a case every 45 days or so and be visible in court. Tucker’s two closest GOP challengers say they hope this is a wake-up call. (Kevin Taylor) Read more about this race