Candidates for state office jam ballots - One-party primary voting system means many incumbents will not face challengers

David Ammons, The Associated Press
The Bellingham Herald


OLYMPIA, WA- A bumper crop of candidates - including 11 apiece for U.S. Senate and governor - filled out Washington's campaign ticket as filing week drew to a close Friday.

Next stop for most will be a much-criticized new primary system that will require voters to limit themselves to just one party's races.

Many incumbents, including nearly all congressmen and state elected officials, managed to avoid primary challengers from within their own parties.

The senior Democratic congressman, Rep. Norm Dicks of the 6th District, drew no opponent from either party, although Republicans and Libertarians still can fill out this and other slates by appointment during the next week.

Candidates are having to adjust to a new Montana-style partisan primary system, which requires voters to mark only one party's ballot - Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. Election officials also will provide the option of voting only on nonpartisan races, such as for the judiciary.

Campaign strategists and candidates say the nature of the new system - the first change in 70 years - requires them to target partisans most likely to vote in the closed primary on Sept. 14, with less attention paid to independents and crossover voters.

The new system is proving unpopular, but that didn't seem to dampen candidates' enthusiasm, state elections Director Nick Handy said in an interview Friday.

"There continues to be strong interest in running for office in this state," he said. "It's very healthy to see such strong interest, both from the established parties and from the minor parties and independents."

Races for the open governor's office, the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Patty Murray and two open congressional seats all drew a bevy of candidates.

A look at the final lists:

SENATE. Murray is challenged by fellow Democrats Mohammad Said of Ephrata and Warren Hanson of Lynnwood. Republicans are Rep. George Nethercutt of Bellevue and Spokane, Reed Davis of Maple Valley, Chuck Jackson of Snohomish, Brad Klippert of Kennewick, Gordon Pross of Ellensburg and William Edward Chovil of Tacoma. J. Mills of Tacoma is running as a Libertarian and Mark Wilson of Suquamish is running on the Green Party ticket. The top Republican, Democrat and Libertarian in the primary will advance to the general election, as will Wilson.

GOVERNOR. Democrats filing for the race to succeed retiring Democratic Gov. Gary Locke: King County Executive Ron Sims of Seattle, state Attorney General Christine Gregoire of Olympia, Scott Headland of Tacoma, Mike The Mover of Lynnwood, Don Hansler of Spanaway and Eugen Buculei of Bellevue. Republicans are Dino Rossi of Issaquah, John Aiken Jr. of Medical Lake and Bill Meyer of Bellingham. Ruth Bennett and Michael Nelson, both of Seattle, are running for the Libertarian nod.

CONGRESS. Dicks and five of the six incumbent members who are running for re-election will avoid a primary challenge. In the 1st District, Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee will face Republican Randy Eastwood and Libertarian Charles Moore. In the 2nd, Democratic incumbent Rick Larsen faces one of three Republicans - Suzanne Sinclair, Glenn Coggeshell or Larry Klepinger. Bruce Guthrie is a Libertarian.

In the 3rd, Democratic incumbent Brian Baird drew a token primary foe, Cheryl Crist. The winner will face either Thomas Crowson or Dawn Courtney, both Republicans. GOP incumbent Doc Hastings in the 4th District is challenged by three Democrats, Craig Mason, Richard Wright and Sandy Matheson.

In the open 5th, where Nethercutt is leaving his seat to run for the Senate, the Republican nominee will be Cathy McMorris, Shaun Cross or Larry Sheahan. Democrat is Don Barbieri.

Dicks was the lone candidate to file in the 6th.

Democrat Jim McDermott, the incumbent in the 7th, faces a rematch with Republican Carry Cassady.

In the 8th, where Rep. Jennifer Dunn is retiring, four Republicans, three Democrats and a Libertarian have signed up. Republicans are Dave Reichert, Conrad Lee, Luke Esser and Diane Tebelius. Democrats are Heidi Behrens-Benedict, Dave Ross and Alex Alben. Spencer Garrett filed as a Libertarian.

Democratic Rep. Adam Smith will face Robert Losey of the Green Party and one of two Republicans, C. Mark Greene or Paul Lord.

DOWN BALLOT: Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Treasurer Mike Murphy, Auditor Brian Sonntag and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, all Democrats, avoided a primary challenge from within their party, as did Secretary of State Sam Reed and Land Commissioner Doug Sutherland, both Republicans. Each drew one or more challengers from an opposition party, however.

The open attorney general's race drew Republicans Mike Vaska and Rob McKenna, Democrats Deborah Senn and Mark Sidran, the Green Party's Paul Richmond and Libertarian J. Bradley Gibson.

SUPREME COURT: Two seats drew six candidates apiece. An open seat being vacated by Justice Faith Ireland drew Gary Carpenter, Maureen Hart, Robert Alsdorf, William Murphy, Jim Johnson and Mary Kay Becker. Justice Richard Sanders drew five competitors, James White, Fred Stewart, Terry Sebring, Steve Merrival and Doug Schafer.

LEGISLATURE: Multi-county district candidates filed with the secretary of state. In districts with lopsided party control, some incumbents will be elected in the primary without opposition - such as Democrats in the 19th District and Republicans in the 12th, 15th and 31st Districts. Single-county district candidates filed with their local auditor. Example: House budget Chairwoman Helen Sommers, D-Seattle, drew a Democratic primary challenger in the 36th District, Alice Woldt.

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