Top Two system pares political races; legislative incumbents fare well

The preliminary round has been polished off and political candidates can now focus on the stretch run to November's general election.

Last week's primary election narrowed the field in long list of races, both legislative and statewide. Given Washington's "top two" system, only the No. 1 and No. 2 finishers in each race survived the cut. Voters will make their final decisions during the Nov. 6 general election.

The closest-to-home races will be for the two House of Representatives seats in the 31st Legislative District. The district takes in Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake, Sumner and surrounding communities.

If the Aug. 7 primary election showed anything, it's that the two incumbents enjoy political popularity while the challengers have a lot of ground to make up.

In the Position No. 1 race, Republican incumbent Cathy Dahlquist garnered 63 percent of the primary vote, compared with Democratic challenger Brian Gunn's 37 percent. For Position No. 2, incumbent Christopher Hurst – who carries the Independent Democrat label – took 59 percent of the primary vote; Republican challenger Lisa Connors had the remaining 41 percent.

Plateau voters also will help decide all the statewide races that determine who runs the various agencies – as well as the Evergreen State itself.

For governor, as expected, Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna advanced to November's general election. Inslee has the early momentum, having received 47 percent of the primary vote, compared with McKenna's 43 percent. Seven other candidates split the remaining votes.

In other primary races of note:

• Looking to replace McKenna as attorney general, Bob Ferguson and Reagan Dunn advanced to the general election with 52 percent and 38 percent of the vote, respectively. Both currently sit on the Metropolitan King County Council.

• Running for secretary of state, Kim Wyman, 39 percent, and Kathleen Drew, 21 percent, advanced to the November ballot.

• Hoping to become state auditor, James Watkins took 46 percent of the primary vote; also advancing was Troy Kelley with 24 percent.

• Other statewide races appear to offer little in the way of drama, as incumbents took more than half the popular vote. Breathing fairly easily are Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen received 49 percent of the vote in a five-person race and incumbent state treasurer Jim McIntire is running unopposed.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue

Voters served by East Pierce Fire and Rescue approved a ballot measure providing funding to the department for two years.

The maintenance and operation levy request was honored with 64 percent support.

The levy sought tax collections of $3 million in 2013 and $3.2 million in 2014.

Boosters had claimed local impacts of the nationwide recession had caused the district to lose 20 percent of its funding since 2009. Commissioners said they have reduced overtime costs, dipped into reserve funds, reduced salaries, left positions vacant and cut training expenses.

With the levy passage, it's anticipated the district can continue its firefighting and emergency medical services at current levels.


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