Watch for Dems to flavor Washington state primary

The primary election is next week on Aug. 19.

Look for a larger than usual turnout of about 40 percent with a Democratic flavor. This is the elimination round as the top two regardless of party will move forward.

Gov. Christine Gregoire and challenger Dino Rossi are likely to move forward to the general election, leaving eight other candidates for governor behind.

Vote totals are important in this race but more importantly, watch “where” the votes will come from. King and Pierce counties are crucial to Gregoire. She needs to win these comfortably and hold her own in the rest of the state. The reverse is true for Rossi. He needs to control the rest of the state and cut into Gregoire’s dominance in the Puget Sound region.

In the race for Attorney General, both incumbent Rob McKenna (R) and challenger John Ladenburg (D) are focusing on November, so the totals won’t mean much unless Ladenburg is close. McKenna would be expected to have a comfortable lead at this point.

The race for Commissioner of Public Lands is usually a yawner. Peter Goldmark is a Democrat from Eastern Washington with strong Seattle connections, which makes him a unique candidate. Republican incumbent Doug Sutherland would normally expect to be in pretty good shape. However, Sutherland recently made the news for allegedly making inappropriate comments to a staff person. Will that news make a difference? This could be another one to watch where the votes come from, since the Democrat is from Eastern Washington and the Republican is from Western Washington.

Secretary of State Sam Reed (R) was able to withstand significant criticism from the conservatives in his own party and should have a strong lead going into November. Democratic candidate Jason Osgood will likely emerge as the other candidate. But most pundits believe he is making this run to establish credibility to run for King County Director of Elections if that position becomes elected, as many expect it will.

Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson will advance and her most likely opponent will be former legislator Randy Dorn.

The race for State Treasurer has voters confused because they don’t recognize any of the names. The Democratic incumbent, Mike Murphy, is stepping down and has endorsed his chief deputy, Republican Allan Martin. ChangMook Sohn and Jim McIntire are running as Democrats. Sohn is the former chief budget forecaster and McIntire is a state legislator. Most expect a Martin-McIntire final, but it’s wide open.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler (D) has two challengers: Republican John R. Adams and Curtis Fackler, who states no party preference but is active in Republican politics in Spokane. Neither appears to be a major threat to Kreidler, but if one comes close, the money faucet could open up.

Congressman Adam Smith (D), Lt. Governor Brad Owen (D) and State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D) all appear safe. Congressman Dave Reichert (R) could be in trouble against challenger Darcy Burner (D).

Locally, incumbent legislators Mark Miloscia (D) and Skip Priest (R) are being challenged by Michael Thompson (R) and Carol Gregory (D), respectively. Miloscia should do well, while Priest has trailed his challenger after the primary and still won in past elections, so it may not mean much either way.

The issue to watch is Initiative 26 to make the King County Executive, Council and Assessor offices non-partisan.

The initiative appears to have strong support and is likely to get the public’s nod for consideration in November as a charter amendment. However, the King County Council placed an alternative on the ballot to allow candidates the option of having their political preference listed.

What’s really going on is that a move to a non-partisan designation makes county offices more competitive. Democrats and Republicans can challenge each other in non-swing districts and Republicans will have a better chance of winning county-wide in Democratic Seattle if they are not identified as a Republican.

Generally speaking, Democrats don’t like the idea while good government groups and many Republicans do, although for obviously different reasons.

Have fun voting.

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

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