Washington State’s primary election results from Tuesday night narrowed down some political races around the state. However, the drawn out process of updated counts over the next few weeks with the trickle-in mail-in ballot program means that any reports on the final results will need to be corrected. Despite that caveat, clear outcomes are worth discussing. In addition to the local races, here are some statewide races worth reviewing:
Lieutenant Governor Race – a massive field shrinks
Unless some very dramatic changes occur in the mail in ballots or King County discovers a few more random bags of secret ballots, it looks like the November Lieutenant Governor run-off is going to be between Republican Marty McClendon and Democrat Cyrus Habib. This was a fascinating race because it included 11 challengers vying in a “jungle” primary (Top two proceed to the general). These 11 challengers included four Republicans, four Democrats, one Libertarian, and two random unaffiliated candidates. Now there will be two.
They were all trying to win a statewide political office that few people even know exists, let alone understand the job description. (Go here to read more). This race was interesting because money really did have an impact on the outcome for the Democratic Party choice, and was almost irrelevant to the Republican Party choice. If you go to the Public Disclosure Commission for this race (here), you can see the disclosed money spent by the candidates and others in this race. Cyrus Habib was the top spender with over $600,000 spent. Close behind him were Steve Hobbs ($575,000 spent including independent expenditures spent by business lobbying groups on his behalf), and Karen Fraser, not far behind just shy of $240,000. In the Republican cohort, only Philip Yin broke into six-figure territory spending just over $135,000. However, the eventual Republican winner spent a paltry $25,000, which was third place for Republican expenditures in this race. McClendon was actually in sixth place overall for expenditures and, as of now – in first place for votes received.
Another interesting aspect to this race was the significant cross party attraction that losing candidate Hobbs was able to receive in his race. Republican Senator Curtis King from Yakima had actually hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Candidate Steven Hobbs earlier in the year. This generated some local controversy since there were four Republicans in the race whom he ignored. State Senator Curtis King has a Republican challenger Amanda Richards this fall. Additionally, Hobbs received substantial outside independent expenditures spent on his behalf during the primary by the realtors and other business interests. Cyris Habib, however, spent even more money and was able to make the general by appealing to his Seattle base of support and running to the left.
This will be a race between a well funded Democratic Party leader from Seattle, and an underfunded Republican born in Eastern Washington. The race between McClendon and Habib for Lieutenant Governor will be one to watch this November.
Guaranteed a Republican State Treasurer next year, but who will it be?
One anticipated outcome of Washington State’s top two “jungle” primary system was the potential for two candidates from the same party to proceed to the general election. This has happened many times in districts that lean strongly Republican or Democrat at a local level. However, history is being made in Washington State’s Treasurer’s race as two Republicans, Michael Waite from Seattle and Duane Davidson from Benton County will face off in the fall. Two Republicans have never faced each other in a statewide general race in Washington State before. This result was partly an outcome of the Democrat’s fracturing their votes among three closely matched candidates who fought very hard to split the Democrat votes. It seems likely the Democratic Party will be a bit more disciplined and try to prevent this from happening again in the future
Washington State Secretary of State Kim Wyman is the only Republican holding a statewide office on the west coast today, and assuming she wins reelection, it looks like she won’t be so lonely in Olympia anymore. No matter who wins the Treasurer’s race in November, it will be a Republican joining her there. While the two candidates may share the same party affiliation, their backgrounds are quite different.
Duane Davidson is a Washington native, originally born in Carnation. He has been in elected office as the Benton County Treasurer since 2003. Micheal Waite is an American citizen who originally immigrated from Australia and has been in the private sector managing large private investment funds living mostly in the Seattle area. Few would have predicted these would be the two names on the ballot for State Treasurer in November.
Public Lands Commissioner – forest management vs. management for maximum combustion
In politics, as voters we are often faced with choices between politicians with nothing to differentiate the choices. Tweedle-dee or Tweedle-dum. Will it even matter?
However, in the Public Lands Commissioner race, the final two candidates facing off will be Republican Steve Mclaughlin and Democrat Hilary Franz (Futurewise). This was another crowded field that was winnowed by the primary results. Steve McLaughlin was predicted to come through the primary as the only Republican in the race, and the real primary battle was between the five Democrats in the race. Hilary Franz is a recently resigned executive director of Futurewise, an extremist organization that has existed to inflict maximum harm on the rural and suburban residents of Washington State since the organization’s creation. She represents a philosophy of managing forests for maximum combustion.
In order for Hilary Franz to prevail in the primary against a crowded field, she had to crush the previous Futurewise darling, Karen Porterfield, who had been in the race since February. Additionally, Hilary had to beat Dave Upthegrove, who was a former state legislator from the 33rd District. He had recently been elected to the King County Council. For some reason, Upthegrove decided to avoid most of the candidate debates and seemed to be throwing a hail-mary pass for this job. Despite his last name, it wasn’t clear what he knew about forestry or public land management. Mary Verner from Spokane was the more reasonable and knowledgeable sounding of the Democratic candidates for this position. Mary was a former City of Spokane Mayor and actually had some education in forestry but despite the support she had from tribes, was not able to break out of the Democratic wolfpack. Rounding out the field were Libertarian Steven Nielson from Pierce County who almost received a respectable 5%, and Democrat John Stillings who was a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics as a coxswain for the American four man rowing team.
Hilary Franz will get a lot of Seattle extremist money to back her campaign. The war on the rural areas of Washington has been led by Hilary in her position at Futurewise (known as “Future Lies” to rural residents and property owners of Washington State), and she is likely to continue this war from the office of Public Lands Commissioner. Steve Mclaughlin actually spent his time delivering relief supplies and helping respond to the recent fires in Eastern Washington. Hilary wrote about Global Warming and fundraised for more extremist rules. Steve Mclaughlin has managed forests before and lives in one today. While Hilary lives on Bainbridge Island, she wants everyone else to live in a concrete jungle preferably high-rise apartments in Seattle. She is certain she knows what is best for rural forestry.
Proper forest management versus management for maximum combustion. The contrast in goals, objectives, and philosophy is stark in this race. We are fortunate to have clear contrasts in our political options.
Why couldn’t the Republicans field a decent option in the Attorney General’s race?
Bob Ferguson looks ready to sail to an easy victory for Attorney General in November. With the Republicans unable to even field a candidate for this office, it was up to the Libertarian Party to do the heavy lifting, and their candidate was unable to break 30% in the primary. This bodes poorly for him in November, and it means that the poor job Ferguson has been doing in the past gets to continue into the future.
It isn’t fun or easy to run a real campaign for statewide office. It is difficult to recruit serious people who will take the time and expend the energy to run for these positions. This is particularly true for the down ticket statewide races like AG where a capable campaigner incumbent resides. However, if a party is going to be serious, there should be some effort to recruit people for these positions. Failing to even provide options for the voters is worse than nothing. It is nothing.
Governor – the inevitable two face off – Inslee fumbles toward November
It comes as no surprise that incumbent Democrat Governor Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant will be facing off in November. It is certain that Bryant would have liked to see stronger numbers in the primary, but the fact that Inslee couldn’t break 50% as an incumbent at this stage is not exactly a sign of dominating
political strength. As the Inslee administration careens from one incompetent scandal to the next in a listless effort to get past November, it is likely that Democrat King County Executive Dow Constantine is regretting not putting his hat in the ring this year.
Tomorrow, we will review some interesting state legislative races and also review some local race results from around Washington State.
Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.” It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people. It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government. It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.” Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed…
More articles for background and additional reference: