Governor, Senate, carbon tax among top Washington races

OLYMPIA, Wash. - More than 4 million Washingtonians are eligible to vote in Tuesday's election, which will see the state choose a governor, a United States senator, 10 Congressional representatives, determine the balance of power in Olympia and decide the fate of several high-profile initiatives.
Here's a look at the big races:
Gov. Jay Inslee, seeking a second term, faces Republican Bill Bryant. Bryant, a former Seattle port commissioner, has said Inslee has mismanaged state departments, especially the state's mental health system, and failed to come up with a plan to fund K-12 education, as mandated by the state Supreme Court. Inslee notes the state has invested billions in public education and says work has been done to increase pay for teachers and expand access to kindergarten. He also touts his environmental record, saying Washington is requiring the biggest polluters in the state to reduce emissions and is promoting alternative energy.
Sen. Patty Murray is running for a fifth term against Republican Chris Vance. Vance, a former state GOP chairman, blames the Democrat for congressional dysfunction and made headlines when he forcefully denounced Donald Trump, his party's presidential nominee, for being too divisive. Murray has pointed to her work with Republicans on the budget and education as examples of how she can accomplish things in a tough environment. Meanwhile voters in the 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Seattle, will choose between two Democrats to replace retiring Rep. Jim McDermott. Brady Walkinshaw and Pramila Jayapal are both state lawmakers.
Six initiatives are on the statewide ballot, including measures that would steadily raise Washington's minimum wage to $13.50 an hour by 2020 and another that would impose a carbon emission tax on certain fossil fuels.
A handful of races could decide whether there's a shake-up in the Washington Legislature this November, as Democrats hope to regain control of the Senate and Republicans have their eye on a majority in the House. In the Senate, Republicans -- along with a Democrat who caucuses with them -- hold a 26-23 advantage, but a few close races in that chamber give Democrats hope they can regain a slim majority. Democrats currently hold a 50-48 advantage in the House. If they lose just one seat, they'll be forced to share power with Republicans, something that last happened from 1999 to 2001. If Republicans pick up more than one seat, they will take outright control for the first time since 1998.
There was a huge surge in voter registrations this year. The secretary of state reports the number of registered voters is more than 4.2 million. Voter registration hit a one-day record on Oct. 11 as 27,601 signed up. State officials expect more than 80 percent of voters to return their ballots. Record turnout for the state was during the 2008 election, when 84.6 percent of voters participated. In 2012, turnout was 81.3 percent.