2010 Washington state elections: Surprises and front-runners | Bob Roegner

To borrow a phrase from Emerald Downs: "And they are off and running!"

To those of us who love politics, filing week is one of the most exciting weeks of the year. Most of the candidates have actually been running for weeks or months - and some for years.

But filing week is the formal kick-off to the campaign season as we watch to see if there will be any surprises. Today, we'll give you the early line on the races. And yes, there were a couple of surprises.

A potentially boring United States Senate race suddenly turned interesting two weeks ago, when Dino Rossi made his challenge to Patty Murray official. Democratic incumbent Murray has raised more than $6 million in campaign donations, and none of the previously announced contenders were given much of a chance to defeat her. However, Rossi is well known and can raise enough money to be competitive. He also is betting that the public mood will be on his side and carry him to the upset. At this point, the odds still favor Murray.

All the congressional seats are up for election with the most attention focused on retiring Congressman Brian Baird's seat (D-District 3). Watch former legislator Denny Heck in this race.

Congressman Dave Reichart (R-District 8) never has an easy race in his swing district, but given the polls, he may not have as much trouble retaining his seat this year.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (District 9) should be able to retain his position, as should the rest of the congressional incumbents.

In Federal Way, the race between incumbent Democratic State Sen. Tracey Eide and Republican school board member Tony Moore would seem to mirror the Murray-Rossi race, with Moore having a little steeper climb.

Skip Priest's decision to give up his state House seat to run for mayor of Federal Way has attracted a large field. Democrat Carol Gregory ran against Priest two years ago, and that now looks like a good investment. Even in the top two format, Gregory should advance to the finals in November. Republicans Anthony Kalchik, who has run before; school board member Ed Barney; Milton Mayor Katrina Asay; and unincorporated King County resident Jerry Galland will compete for the other spot. Asay is one likely winner. But this race produced the biggest surprises, as Federal Way City Councilman Jack Dovey didn't file for anything. Dovey was thought to have a good chance at winning this seat. Also, Democrat Roger Flygare had announced his interest, then said he might run for mayor, then didn't file for either office.

For the other District 30 House position, incumbent Democratic Mark Miloscia appears safe against Republican challenger Shawn Sullivan.

But the race that will dominate the local discussion is the race for mayor of Federal Way.

City councilman Jim Ferrell announced his campaign last year, and council members Mike Park and Linda Kochmar joined him this spring. Kochmar is the current mayor and Park has also served as mayor. State Rep. Skip Priest was the last to join the field for the non-partisan position.

Ferrell, Kochmar and Priest are active Republicans, and Park said he is an independent. Money, and how the candidates use it, will play a big role. Ferrell entered the race first. Kochmar has the title. Park has the most money. Priest did a match-up poll, so he knows the numbers.

Priest and Park look like your early front-runners. But there will be plenty of surprises along the way.

Enjoy it. This will be a fun summer.

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