Governor race headlines primary elections

If you like exciting elections, stay tuned for the next couple of months because you’re going to see several.

If you like exciting elections, stay tuned for the next couple of months because you’re going to see several.

The race for governor between incumbent Christine Gregoire (D) and challenger Dino Rossi (R) will be the headliner.

Coming out of the primary, Gregoire led by about 2 percent at 48 percent to 46 percent, but maintained a solid 60 percent in King County while picking up Spokane and Asotin counties in Eastern Washington. Rossi was able to maintain his Eastern Washington base and pick up Clallam and Lewis counties in Western Washington.

But Rossi has to pick up more support in the heavily populated Puget Sound area. This will be as tough and hard of a campaign as this state has ever seen for governor.

Two other races to watch are for state treasurer and state lands commissioner. Democratic State Treasurer Mike Murphy is stepping down and endorsed his Republican deputy, Allan Martin. Martin has advanced to the general election with a good showing in the primary. However, there were two Democrats in the race whose combined vote total was pretty impressive. State Rep. Jim McIntire (D) will advance to face Martin and will likely claim ChangMook Sohn’s (D) supporters in the general election. Also, McIntire led Martin by more than 10 percent in King County. This puts McIntire in a very good strategic position for November.

The other close race to watch is the battle between incumbent Republican Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland and Eastern Washington Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark. Sutherland came out of the primary leading by a couple of percentage points, but Goldmark won 60 percent of King County — and if he can use his Eastern Washington residency to tap into traditional Republican or independent votes, Sutherland could be in trouble.

In a bit of a surprise given the 60 percent Democratic King County trend in the primary, Attorney General incumbent Republican Rob McKenna split King County about 50-50 with his Democratic challenger, John Ladenburg. McKenna benefited from name recognition derived from his time on the King County Council, but the same trend also appeared to hold in Ladenburg’s turf in Pierce County. Ladenburg has a lot of work in front of him if he wants to catch McKenna in November.

All other statewide office holders appear to be comfortably ahead. The same holds true for congressional incumbents with one big exception.

Republican incumbent Dave Reichert has got his hands full as he and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner are neck and neck. This was expected to be a close race and it will be. For statewide and congressional candidates, the turnout will be crucial. Whichever party gets its voters to the polls will have the advantage.

Another key will be who can attract Washington’s traditional independents to their candidates. So watch the television and mailing advertisements. Each party is after you if you’re an independent voter.

The other interesting issue was I-26 to change King County elected positions to non-partisan. The basic question received more than 63 percent favorable vote and the initiative outpolled the council alternative comfortably. While many political strategists have different reasons for supporting or opposing a non-partisan county government, most have agreed that if a non-partisan choice ever got on the ballot, it would pass easily. The charter amendment will now be on the November ballot.

We’ll take a look at some interesting legislative races next week.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner, a former mayor of Auburn, can be reached at

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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He is a former president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. Contact
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