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2012 elections preview: Washington voters to select winners in congressional, legislative primaries
Washington holds its primary on Tuesday. Washington has a top-two primary, meaning the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election. Registered voters received their ballots in the mail. Voters may either send their ballots in by mail, postmarked by Election Day, or turn them in to a ballot drop-box or elections department by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
|Contested Primaries in Washington -- August 7, 2012|
| U.S. House
| State Legislature |
|Total Contested Primaries||10 (100%)||28 (23%)|
With its top-two primary system, Washington will have a contest in every congressional primary this year. In addition to the Senate race and 10 U.S. House district races, there is a special election being held in Washington's 1st District.
Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell is seeking re-election this year. She was first elected in 2000. Cantwell is not expected to lose in the primary, so the top-two system will likely determine which candidate will face Cantwell in the general election. According to the Washington Republican Party Chairman, Kirby Wilbur, state Senator Michael Baumgartner and political newcomer Art Coday are the top Republican hopes. He said Cantwell has "a record that she has to answer for... This is an election really about Maria Cantwell."
Thus far, Cantwell has a $4.5 million advantage over any of her challengers.
Three districts are open in 2012, meaning there isn't an incumbent running for re-election. In the 1st, incumbent Jay Inslee (D), retired to pursue his run for Washington governor. In the 6th, longtime Representative Norm Dicks opted not to run for a 19th term. The 10th District was added following the results of the 2010 Census, so there is no incumbent for that district.
In the races with incumbents running, the primary looks to be unexciting, as those generally have at most challenger who has raised significant campaign funds. (For example, see the 2nd District and 4th District primaries.)
Adding complication in the 1st District, the state is holding a special election to fill Jay Inslee's seat after the congressman retired early. While the special election is taking place on the same dates as the regular elections, it will fill the 1st District seat for the short period of time between the November election and the start of the full term in January 2013. Also, since the district's boundaries were redrawn following the results of the 2010 Census, voters in the old 1st District will vote in the special election, while the new 1st District voters will select the full-term representative.
The 1st District has the potential to switch from blue to red, with the Democratic incumbent retiring and redistricting changing the district's boundaries. Polling puts Republican John Koster ahead of the other candidates, who are five Democrats and an independent. The same data showed Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene overtaking Darcy Burner for the second slot, thanks largely to a recent TV ad blitz from DelBene. Earlier in the year, Burner, a progressive activist, had capitalized on anti-wealthy sentiment to pull ahead of former executive DelBene. The race is seen as a battleground between the Democratic establishment and more ideologically extreme candidates.
The 6th District seat is open as incumbent Democrat Norm Dicks did not seek re-election. State Senator Derek Kilmer is running as a Democrat and is considered the front runner in the race--Democrats have won the last 24 elections in the 6th District.
|Members of the U.S. House from Washington -- Partisan Breakdown|
|Party||As of November 2012||After the 2012 Election|
Washington uses the blanket primary system. There are 28 contested primaries across the state where the number of candidates outnumbers the number of slots available for the general election. The 28 contested primaries represents 23.0 percent of possible primaries tomorrow. This figure is slightly higher than the current national contested average of 19.38 percent for states that have had filing deadlines.
There are four primaries in the State Senate races in which more than two candidates are running.
- District 1: Incumbent Rosemary McAuliffe (D), who was first elected in 1993, faces Democratic candidate and ranch owner Guy Palumbo and Republican former teacher Dawn McCravey in a three-way primary race.
- District 2: Incumbent Randi Becker (R), who has represented District 2 since 2008, faces Democratic candidate and former airline captain Bruce L. Lachney and Republican military analyst James E. Vaughn in a three-way contest for the two spots on the general election ballot.
- District 20: Incumbent Dan Swecker (R), who was first appointed in 1995 and has represented District 20 since that time, faces two Republican candidates: vehicle manufacturing company president John E. Braun and employment specialist Rae Lowery.
- District 40: Incumbent and Assistant Majority Whip Kevin Ranker first took office in 2009. He faces Republican and waterjet manufacturing company founder John Swapp and Independent retired teacher Jim Cozad.
|Washington State Senate|
|Party||As of November 5, 2012||After the 2012 Election|
There are 24 primaries in the State House of Representatives races in which more than two candidates are running.
- District 1a: Incumbent Derek Stanford (D), who first assumed office in 2011, faces three contestants in the blanket primary. Consultant and fellow Democrat Greg Rankich, Republican Sandy Guinn, and Republican Brian Travis are running for a spot on the District 1a general election ballot.
- District 8b: Incumbent Larry Haler (R) faces nuclear operator and fellow Republican Bob Parks and Democrat Richard Reuther.
- District 23b: Incumbent Drew Hansen (D), who first assumed office in 2011, faces fellow Democrat Henning B. Larsen and Republican real estate investor James M. Olsen.
- District 26a: Incumbent Jan Angel (R), who first began representing the 26th District in 2008, faces two Democrats: EMT Stephen Greer and teacher Karin Ashabraner.
- District 28b: Incumbent Tami Green, who first assumed office in 2005, faces two Republicans: Marine and 2010 candidate Paul Wagemann and non-profit president Malcolm Russell.
- District 30b: Incumbent Katrina Asay (R), who first took office in 2011, faces two Democrats: Federal Way City Councilmember Roger Freeman and aerospace electrical engineer Rick Hoffman.
- District 32b: Incumbent Ruth Kagi (D), who first assumed office in 1999, faces two Republicans: craftsman Eric R. Alvey and U.S. Census employee Robert Reedy.
- District 36a: Incumbent Reuven Carlyle (D), who first assumed office in 2009, faces Republican veteran Leslie Klein and Independent musician Robert Canamar.
- District 44a: Incumbent Hans Dunshee (D), who first assumed office in 1997, faces three Republicans: computer technology industry employee Mark Harmsworth, building inspector Robert McCaughan, and computer scientist B.J. Guillot
- District 45a: Incumbent Roger Goodman (D), who first assumed office in 2007, faces fellow Democrat, student, and Iraq War veteran Jacob Bond, and Republican aviation businessman Joel Hussey.
|Washington House of Representatives|
|Party||As of November 5, 2012||After the 2012 Election|
- Washington Secretary of State, "Top 2 Primary: FAQ," accessed May 17, 2012
- Washington Secretary of State, "Vote by Mail," accessed August 5, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Senate race Cantwell's to lose — unless Obama support craters," July 10, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Special election to replace Inslee for 1 month," April 2, 2012
- Seattle Times, "Voters face crowded ballots for 1st District," July 31, 2012
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Will Tuesday's Washington primary clip the Democrats' left wing?," August 4, 2012
- The Seattle Times, "Dem front-runner in 6th District; 5 Republicans vying for a shot," June 24, 2012
- The (Olympia) News-Tribune, "GOP lags in fundraising in race for 10th District," July 17, 2012