By Michael Sarko
– The Capitol Hill Times -
The August 7th Washington State Primary Elections came with a mixed bag of results. Some developments were completely unsurprising, while others proved to be unusual. Here’s how the officials and issues that most affect Capitol Hill fared on the ballot.
An interesting development in the race for both positions in our own 43rd State Legislative District: A rather large number of write-in votes took a significant percentage of the ballot. Gregory Gadow, who ran against long-sitting representative Frank Chopp, came in just under 10 percent of the vote for Position 2 on an Independent ticket. Socialist Alternative write-in candidate Kshama Sawant took 8.54 percent of the vote away from Jamie Pedersen for Position 1. Gadow has dropped out of the race but Sawant is now considering a campaign for Position 2 against Chopp.
Despite protests and economic concerns, the Children and Family Services Center Capital Levy, which will pave the way for the construction of a new juvenile detention center on the border of Capitol Hill and the Central District, passed. Fifty-four percent of voters approved the levy. The people of Seattle also gave a clear majority to the approval of the so-called “Library Levy” which will give the city access to tax funds to maintain its libraries. Opponents of the measure have called for a more ongoing commitment by the city for libraries rather than this short-term solution, while supporters of the levy cite the economic struggle of the past several years as making the levy necessary.
It was business as usual among our federal representatives. Long-serving Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell walked away with a clear majority at 55.25 percent of the vote. Cantwell has been in the other Washington for two decades, picking up her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993 then moving to the Senate in 2001 after a six-year break. Cantwell is an economy-focused senator, concentrating on small business legislation and advocating for higher learning grants for working class and veteran Washingtonians. Republican Michael Baumgartner took the #2 position at 30.63 percent of the vote.
As expected, Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee took a vast majority of the gubernatorial primary vote. Democrat Inslee edged out Attorney General McKenna by a slim 3 percent. Their race has been close ever since Inslee returned to Washington State to concentrate on his campaign early this year. McKenna and Inslee differ in their support of Seattle-centric issues like same-sex marriage and mass transit development (in short, Inslee: Yea, McKenna: Nay). Historically, the August Primary has been a reasonably accurate predictor of the General Election in November, but a 3 percent gap is hardly a final word.
Early in the race to decide who would replace Rob McKenna as Washington’s Attorney General, the Republican Party experienced a rift that threatened to divide their vote. If that week’s results are any indication, that’s exactly what happened. The issue of same-sex marriage has been front and center in the Attorney General contest and proved divisive for Washington Republicans. Moderate Republican Reagan Dunn voiced his support for same-sex marriage shortly after the issue passed in the state legislature, leading to the campaign of social conservative Stephen Pidgeon who strongly opposes same-sex marriage. Pidgeon won a solid 10 percent of the vote, allowing fast-rising Democrat Bob Ferguson to acquire a comfortable 13-point lead.