Federal Way, state have plenty to watch in '08 elections

Filing week has come and gone.

It’s time to fill out your score card and tape it to the refrigerator because there are some races you should watch closely.

The highlight is the race for governor between incumbent Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican opponent Dino Rossi. That race will dominate the news for the next several months.

But there are some other equally intriguing races you should watch. Two reminders: The primary is Aug. 19. It’s not in September any more, and this year, the top two vote-getters advance to the November general election regardless of party affiliation. That is an important sub-issue in some races, particularly the battle to be insurance commissioner.

Incumbent Mike Kriedler (D) filed for re-election, but his expected Republican challenger Curtis Fackler filed as “no party preference” even though he is chair of the Spokane Republican Party. Fackler took that designation because John Adams (what a great political name) filed as a Republican.

Many insurance companies are still upset with Kreidler for supporting Initiative 67 last fall, even though the public voted for it as well. Kreidler should be in good position, but where the Republican-oriented political action committees spend their money could be important.

A very interesting race to watch will be the one for attorney general. Incumbent Rob McKenna (R) has one eye on his re-election and the other eye on the governor’s race. His opponent, Pierce County Executive John Ladenberg (D), could prove to be a formidable opponent. He will contrast his prosecutor experience with McKenna’s council service in King County. The winner of this race becomes a future potential candidate for governor.

If Gregoire is re-elected, and decides to run for a third term, and McKenna is re-elected, he becomes her likely opponent. If Rossi and Ladenberg win, it sets up a future match as well.

If Rossi and McKenna win, then McKenna starts looking at Patty Murray or Maria Cantwell’s senate seats.

If Gregoire and Ladenberg win, than everything depends on what Gregoire decides to do in four years. So when you vote in this race, think long term.

Another interesting race that could have long term impact is for Commissioner of Public Lands. Incumbent Doug Sutherland, a west-side-of-the-state Republican from Pierce County, is being challenged by Peter Goldmark an east-side-of-the-state Democrat from Spokane. That in itself makes the race unusual, but Goldmark also has a lot of Seattle connections, which may make him a more formidable opponent than typical from Eastern Washington. If Sutherland wins, keep an eye on him to consider future options.

The race for State Treasurer presents an unusual twist in the field. Incumbent Democrat Mike Murphy is retiring and has endorsed his top deputy, Allan Martin, who is running as a Republican. The two other candidates are state Rep. Jim McIntire (D-Seattle) and Chang Mook Sohn (D-Olympia), who just retired as the chief economist for state government.

Remember all those budget and economic forecasts the governor and the legislature wait for before deciding on the state budget? Chang Mook Sohn was the key forecaster so his candidacy will be watched closely.

At this point, Lt. Governor Brad Owen (D-Olympia) and State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D-Tacoma) would appear to be safe.

Secretary of State Sam Reed (R-Olympia) will likely face Jason Osgood (D-Seattle), who is somewhat familiar to those who track election department policy and procedures.

The moderate Reed will be able to successfully defend his post if he has repaired relations within the more conservative element of his own party. If not, the race could tighten up.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson faces five challengers — the most well known is former state House member Randy Dorn. We will take a closer look at this race as it unfolds.

Also for your refrigerator will be a future column on candidates for the Legislature.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at bjroegner@comcast.net.

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