Key Races On Washington Ballot

By RACHEL LA CORTE, Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A packed ballot in Washington state features a gubernatorial race, six ballot initiatives and dozens of statewide offices and legislative races.

More than 4.2 million of the state’s registered voters have already received their ballots in the mail. They must have them postmarked by Election Day or can return them at local drop boxes by 8 p.m. election night. As of Monday, 1.9 million ballots had already been returned by voters.

Of the nine statewide offices on the ballot, five have open seats: lieutenant governor, auditor, lands commissioner, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction. At of the top of the remaining seats with incumbents, voters will decide between Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who is seeking a second term, and his Republican challenger Bill Bryant, a former Port of Seattle commissioner. Democrats have held the governor’s office since 1984.

The secretary of state’s race is a competitive contest between incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman and her Democratic opponent, Tina Podlodowski, a former Microsoft manager who previously served on the Seattle City Council.

Wyman is the lone statewide elected Republican not only in Washington state but the entire West Coast. Republicans have held the office in the state for the last 52 years.

In the race for state treasurer, two Republicans face off on the general ballot, the first time two candidates from the same party — Michael Waite and Duane Davidson — will compete in a statewide race since Washington launched the top-two primary system in 2008. Both Waite and Davidson garnered the highest votes in the August primary, advancing past three Democrats. Same-party opponents have emerged in legislative and congressional races but never in a statewide contest.

All 98 seats in the House are up for election Nov. 8, and 26 of the Senate’s 49 seats will also be decided by voters.

In the Senate, Republicans — along with a Democrat who caucuses with them — hold a 26-23 advantage. But a few close races in that chamber give Democrats hope they can regain a slim majority.

Democrats currently hold a 50-48 advantage in the House. If Democrats lose just one seat, they’ll be forced to share power with Republicans, something that last happened from 1999 to 2001. If Republicans pick up more than one seat, they will take outright control for the first time since 1998.

A U.S. Senate race is also on the ballot, with incumbent Democratic Sen. Patty Murray facing Republican candidate Chris Vance.

All 10 of state’s U.S. House seats are also on the ballot, including Seattle’s solidly Democratic 7th District, which is an open seat after Jim McDermott decided to retire after serving 14 two-year terms in Congress. That race is between two Democrats, state Sen. Pramila Jayapal and state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw.

Incumbents are running in the rest of the congressional races in the state, where Democrats hold six of the seats and Republicans hold four. The state’s congressional races aren’t expected to affect the balance of power in Congress.

Three of the state Supreme Court’s nine justices also face re-election challenges. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen faces Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel, Justice Charlie Wiggins faces Federal Way Municipal Judge Dave Larson, and Justice Mary Yu faces Gonzaga law professor David DeWolf.

There are also six initiatives on the ballot, including measures related to increasing the statewide minimum wage, campaign finance reform and a carbon tax.

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