Johnson wins second term; Sanders advances

Justice Jim Johnson fended off Tacoma attorney Stan Rumbaugh in his bid for a second term on the state Supreme Court, winning the primary Tuesday night and advancing to the November ballot alone.

In early returns, Johnson had 63 percent of the vote compared to Rumbaugh’s 37 percent, allowing him to win the primary outright because he received more than half the vote.

Johnson, who had faced a well-funded attack from liberal groups, said the outcome “confirms my belief in the judgment of the people in selecting judicial candidates.”

Rumbaugh wished Johnson well in his next term.

“I have no regrets about offering the voters a choice,” he said. “They chose Justice Johnson, and tomorrow morning I’ll get up and go to work.”

A liberal political action committee ran cable TV ads and sent out mailers against Johnson, painting him as in the pocket of special interests. Unions and other groups had taken issue with his ties to the powerful Building Industry Association of Washington, which he represented as a private attorney.

Johnson is a former assistant attorney general, but as a private attorney, he drafted one of Tim Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives and defended another, fought against tribal claims on private and public lands, and battled to keep Washington’s blanket primary-election system alive.

Rumbaugh, who has been an attorney for more than 30 years, has his own practice in Tacoma that deals with personal injury, worker’s compensation and wrongful death. In another race, Justice Richard Sanders advanced through the primary after getting 47 percent of the vote in early returns. His closest competitor, former Court of Appeals Judge Charlie Wiggins had 40 percent. Pierce County Superior Judge Bryan Chushcoff had 13 percent.

Sanders, first elected to the Supreme Court in 1995, is known for his sometimes passionate dissenting opinions, and in past years has drawn fire for controversial actions on and off the bench.

Wiggins is endorsed by many prosecuting attorneys, the state Democratic Party and the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs.

Sanders, a self-described libertarian, has the support of the BIAW, the state Republican and Libertarian parties, and business groups.

Also up for re-election is Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. Madsen is running unopposed in the primary, so she advanced alone to the November ballot.


Tuesday’s election narrowed the field in the four-way race for the open position 2 District Court judgeship. Puyallup attorney Claire Sussman will face off against Kevin McCann, a deputy prosecuting attorney.

Attorneys Karl Williams and Lance Hester were lagging far behind.