Local Election

Here are 5 things to know about Washington’s Aug. 2 primary

Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, speaks with Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, before the start of the Northwest Business Club meeting on Wednesday, July 13, at the Bellingham Elks Lodge in Bellingham. Each faces three challengers in the Aug. 2 primary election.
Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, speaks with Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, before the start of the Northwest Business Club meeting on Wednesday, July 13, at the Bellingham Elks Lodge in Bellingham. Each faces three challengers in the Aug. 2 primary election. eabell@bhamherald.com

Washington voters are set to narrow their choices in dozens of races across the state, ranging from U.S. Senate to governor to state treasurer.

Here’s a look at five things to know ahead of Tuesday’s primary:

How many candidates are on the ballot?

According to the secretary of state’s office, more than 670 candidates are vying for federal, statewide, legislative, county, judicial and local offices. The races include: U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, state auditor, office of superintendent of public instruction and Supreme Court.

How does Washington’s top-two primary work?

The top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the November election, regardless of party. That means in some contests two Republicans or two Democrats could end up on the general election ballot. Also, voters don’t have to declare a party affiliation and can choose among all candidates on one consolidated ballot.

What’s the most closely watched race?

State House seats in the 42nd District, which includes most of Whatcom County, have drawn three challengers each to incumbents Vincent Buys and Luanne Van Werven, both Republicans from Lynden. Only two in each race will move on to the general election.

In District 40, Reps. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes, and Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, are unopposed, but Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, faces a challenge from Republican Daniel Miller.

Also of note: Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, D-Seattle, is one of nine candidates competing for the open seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who retired after 14 two-year terms in Congress. Walkinshaw is a 2002 graduate of Nooksack Valley High School.

Are all of the legislative races competitive?

No, most aren’t. In 78 of the 124 legislative races on the ballot, there’s no real contest in the primary. Twenty-seven races are unopposed, and in 51 seats, there’s only two candidates running, all of whom will automatically advance to the November ballot.

How big a turnout is expected?

The secretary of state’s office has predicted that voter turnout for the primary will be at about 41 percent. But as of Monday morning, only about 14 percent of the 4.1 million ballots sent to voters had been returned. Ballots must be either postmarked by Tuesday or dropped off at a local drop box.

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