Writings and observations

WA: Top 2 changes, pt 2

The Washington state top two primary seems not to have made massive changes, so far as early returns indicate, in the kind of results you might have expected from more conventional primary approaches. In case after case, where it could happen, voters wound up picking conventional Democratic-Republican matchups for November.

In U.S. House District 7, there’s been the talk about maybe Democratic Representative Jim McDermott facing off with a Democrat in November. Maybe another time, but not this year: He pulled 73.1% of the vote and put Republican Steve Beren (at 15.1%) in second place. The two other Democrats on the ballot were far behind.

Similarly, 3rd District Democrat Brian Baird (51.7%) will face Republican Michael Delavar (19%) instead of anti-war Democrat Cheryl Crist (13.3%).

The old-style wide-open Washington primaries used to be taken as rough mass polls – if the primary field wasn’t too drastically different from that of the general, you could often get a sense of the voting patterns from the primary, when voters were about to choose evenly among all the candidates. Will that work out this time?

We’ll get a chance to see.

In the 8th House District, one of the hottest congressional races in the region, incumbent Republican Dave Reichert (47.8%) can maybe take a little heart from finishing at least ahead of Democratic challenger Darcy Burner (44.5%). But not ahead by much, and short of 50%; and about 5% of the vote unaccounted for between the two of them went to two minor Democratic candidates. So Burner has some legitimate talking points here too. The takeaway is that, yes, the 8th looks as hot as everything has thought it was – based on the primary numbers.

Our long-running sense that Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire is ahead, though not massively, of Republican challenger Dino Rossi, also gets some support. She pulled 49.2% to Rossi’s 45% – enough that she can claim an advantage, but well short of a lead that would put Rossi away. He appears to be behind but in striking distance, were silver bullet found. (He appears not to have found it yet.)

Similarly in the attorney general’s race, incumbent Rob McKenna took 55.7% to Democrat John Ladenburg‘s 44.3% – not enough to put Ladenburg away, but enough to show a definite lead (and some challenge for Ladenburg by way of catching up in time).

Elsewhere among the statewides, the most interesting number may be in the lands commissioner race. Incumbent Republican Doug Sutherland pulled 50.3% to Democrat Peter Goldmark‘s 49.7% – which suggests one heck of a race for November.

Not a game-changer of a primary, as it turns out, but replete with pointers for November.

BTW A caveat here: Voter turnout, at 24.4%, was low – lower than expected, and of course much lower than the general will be. So some of these results could shift significantly as large numbers of people vote in the fall.

THE TIE A tied vote on Tuesday between the two top finishers doesn’t really matter, since both advance to November anyway. Still. Veteran incumbent Republican state Senator Mike Carrell of Lakewood tied (at late Tuesday night’s count) with Democratic challenger Debi Srail. Quoth the Tacoma News Tribune: “Incumbent Sen. Mike Carell, R-Lakewood, might be feeling a little tight around the collar about now.”

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