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Trail Mix - 9.27.12 

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Generally during presidential election years, it can be hard to get noticed down-ballot, as everybody’s focused on the national gaffe of the week. So with election season heading into the home stretch, let’s take a quick look at some key state and local races.

WAY, WAY UNDER THE RADAR

This race for a seat on the Spokane County Board of Commissioners is between two second-time candidates: Daryl Romeyn (D), who used to be on TV, and Shelly O’Quinn (R), who has a lot of yard signs. With three like-minded Republicans on the board these past few years, the job isn’t the headline-hog it once was, but the winner here could be the key vote in directing a lot of local policy — and tax dollars.

IMPORTANT JOB, DRAMA-FREE RACE

The race for the 3rd District State Senate seat has the potential to swing the balance of power in Olympia, but aside from a few misfired mailers, it’s pretty quiet. Maybe that’s a function of such clear differences between Andy Billig (D) and Nancy McLaughlin (R) in a district with a firm political persuasion.

BIG, GIANT DIFFERENCES

The race for the state representative seat in Spokane Valley’s 4th District couldn’t be more stark, as it pits soccer mom Amy Biviano (D) against the aggressive, kinda-paranoid Matt Shea (R). The only race that comes close to such disparity is the Washington Supreme Court contest between tyranny-fighter Richard Sanders and progressive reformer Sheryl Gordon McCloud.

QUIET — TOO QUIET

This was the race we hoped would be filled with fireworks. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) is a sitting duck as part of the least popular institution in America — Congress. But even with the wind at his back, Rich Cowan (D) has been slow out of the gate, which has — so far — given Rodgers another one of those free passes she probably can’t believe she gets every two years.

TWO BELLWETHERS

There are a few races every year that mark where we are on that blue/red, left/right spectrum, and here in Spokane they’re often in the 6th District. Since state Sen. Michael Baumgartner is not up for re-election, and Kevin Parker did not draw an opponent, the other representative seat is in the spotlight, between former cop Jeff Holy (R) and former legislator Dennis Dellwo (D). This is the kind of race where who turns out most — Obama voters, Romney voters, gay marriage opponents, legalizing marijuana supporters — can make a bigger difference than the candidates themselves.

And finally there’s the governor’s race between Rob McKenna (R) and Jay Inslee (D). If McKenna loses, it could set the statewide Republican effort back by years. Washington is already a Blue State, thanks to King County, but it would darken into the navys and midnights if Inslee prevails.

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