OLYMPIA — Democratic incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee easily advanced through Tuesday’s primary, though which Republican will join him on the November ballot remained uncertain on the first night of ballot counts in vote-by-mail Washington.
And in the race for lieutenant governor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who had previously announced he was retiring from Congress, also advanced to the general election, with nearly 28% in early returns. Vying for the second spot on the November ballot were Democratic Sen. Marko Liias, at just under 17%, followed by Republican Ann Davison Sattler, at 11.5%. They are running to succeed current Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving to become a Jesuit priest.
The two races were among dozens of federal, statewide and local races that voters were deciding in the state’s top-two primary, in which the top two vote-getters advance to the November ballot, regardless of party. Last-minute voters had until 8 p.m. to drop their ballots off at drop off boxes around the state.
In early returns Tuesday night, Inslee had 52% of the vote. Among Inslee’s Republican challengers, Loren Culp, the police chief of Republic, had the largest share of early returns at nearly 17%, followed by Joshua Freed, the former mayor of Bothell, anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman, Yakima doctor Raul Garcia and state Sen. Phil Fortunato, who all had less than 10%.
With Heck’s retirement, the open seat in the 10th Congressional District, which includes the state capital of Olympia, drew 19 candidates. The top three candidates in early returns are all Democrats: former Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland had 21% of the vote, Democratic state lawmaker Beth Doglio had 14% and former state lawmaker Kristine Reeves had just under 13%.
It could take days to determine the outcome of that race and others, as the ballots arrive in elections offices throughout the week. The next batch of results will be posted by counties Wednesday afternoon.
All 10 of the state’s U.S. House seats are on the ballot, but Heck’s seat is the only one without an incumbent seeking another two-year term. Democrats currently hold seven of the seats, and Republicans hold three.
Voters also weighed in on nine statewide elected offices, including attorney general, auditor and lands commissioner, with all of the Democratic incumbents advancing to the November ballot. The only two statewide positions held by Republicans — secretary of state and treasurer — are expected to be competitive in the fall. Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Democratic state Rep. Gael Tarleton both advanced to the November ballot, with Wyman at just over 50% and Tarleton with just under 45%.
Treasurer Duane Davidson and his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, are the only two candidates on the primary ballot and automatically advance to the general election, with Pellicciotti having captured 54% in early returns.
Voters will also decide their local legislative races, with all 98 state House seats and 26 of the Senate’s 49 seats on the primary ballot. Democrats hold a 28-21 majority in the Senate and a 57-41 edge in the House.