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Primary narrows field for November

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Another 41 days remain before the general election and the end of campaign season 2004.

Plateau-area voters helped whittle the field of candidates during the Sept. 15 primary, the first of its kind for Washington state. Things will be different on Nov. 2, as voters will be able to pick and choose freely, bouncing back and forth between parties as they always have.

The November general election will bring nothing too close to home, as there are no city council or school board elections being contested in Plateau communities. And in the race for the state's 31st Legislative District, the Democrats have conceded; Dan Roach and Jan Shabro, a pair of Bonney Lake-area Republicans, will be uncontested on the ballot.

But that doesn't mean there'll be no drama. Plateau voters will help decide the following races, each of which has its own unique storyline and figures to be closely watched in coming weeks.

In the 8th Congressional District, a pair of big-name candidates are squaring off for the seat being vacated by 12-year Congressional veteran Jennifer Dunn. Dave Reichert, King County sheriff whose credits include nailing the Green River Killer, advanced on the Republican ticket. Favored by Democrats in the primary was Dave Ross, longtime Seattle radio talk show host.

In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray easily advanced, as did Republican challenger George Nethercutt. Nethercutt, currently representing eastern Washington in Congress, is the party's hand-picked candidate to challenge Murray.

In the race for governor, a pair of familiar names rose to the top. Democrats chose Christine Gregoire, currently state attorney general, while the Republicans tapped Dino Rossi, until recently one of the top GOP members of the state Legislature.

While most of the races for state office feature little excitement, there were a couple of interesting developments during the primary. The new system, however, left political experts wondering just what to make of the primary results.

In the race for secretary of state, incumbent Sam Reed (Republican) was out polled by little-known Democrat Laura Ruderman. And incumbent Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland (Republican) was out polled by Democrat Mike Cooper.

In the wide-open race for attorney general, Deborah Senn advanced in the Democratic race and King County's Rob McKenna did the same among Republicans.

The most tightly-contested race was the one not impacted by the state's new primary system. In the non-partisan race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, incumbent Terry Bergeson finished slightly behind former SPI Judith Billings. Those two will square off again in November.

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