The preliminaries are out of the way and the countdown clock stands at 89 days — marking a little less than 13 weeks until the general election of 2014. And while Tuesday's primary was relatively short on surprises, it could generate some intrigue heading into the next three months of campaigning.
Locally, that will mean plenty of appearances and plenty of stump speeches in the races for the six state representative seats that cover the bulk of Clark County. Statewide, it will mean analysis of the eventual makeup of the Washington Senate, which has been led by a Majority Coalition Caucus featuring two Democrats who broke ranks with their party. And nationally, the focus will be on Republican efforts to seize six seats held by Democrats in order to wrest control of the U.S. Senate.
Among Clark County races, Republican Lisa Ross advanced to the general election to face Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, for State Representative from the 49th District. There is little chance that Moeller, a six-term incumbent, will lose his seat. But with Ross defeating well-known activist and fellow Republican Carolyn Crain in the primary, it lends a different flavor to the general election. Ross' argument that she has more crossover appeal than Crain and a better chance of unseating Moeller seems to have resonated with voters who lean Republican, but she has a difficult task in facing an incumbent who won 60 percent of the vote in 2012 against Crain.
In the race for representative from the 18th Legislative District, Position 1, Democrat Mike Briggs led incumbent Republican Brandon Vick, whose support apparently was split with fellow Republican John Ley and his 26 percent of the vote. Briggs is a political newcomer who bested an incumbent in the primary, but it's likely to be a different story when he goes head-to-head against Vick.
The primary also provided a preview of a contest in the 17th District that will be of keen interest. Republican challenger Lynda Wilson drew 50.7 percent of the vote to 49.2 percent for incumbent Monica Stonier. With only two candidates in the contest, both were assured of advancing to the general election, and the result presaged a hard-fought race.
While other local state representative seats will be contested in the general election, races elsewhere in the state could have nearly as much of an impact on Clark County residents. The Republicans' majority coalition in the Senate currently holds a 26-23 advantage in that chamber, but Rodney Tom, one of the Democrats who caucused with the opposition party, opted to not seek re-election. The other Democrat to cross the aisle, Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, is facing a close three-way race for a spot on the November ballot. The role the Senate played in 2013 in killing the Columbia River Crossing reflects the importance that chamber can have to Clark County residents, and 25 of the 49 seats are being contested this year.
Nationally, Tuesday's primaries in four states — Kansas, Michigan and Missouri, along with Washington — did little to alter projections for the eventual makeup of the U.S. Senate. Most political aficionados predict that Republicans will seize control of the Senate in a close battle. Either way, Republicans will face at least two more years with a Democrat president, meaning that the gridlock in Washington, D.C., is likely to be unabated for the foreseeable future.
All of that, as they say, is politics, and Tuesday's primary was merely the appetizer designed to create anticipation for the main course. There are 89 days until the general election and, as the candidates know, the clock is ticking.