Local Politics

Low turnout expected for Primary

SPOKANE, Wash. - Primary day is here, though elections officials are projecting an underwhelming turnout for a fairly light ballot Tuesday.

There are dozens of legislative contests and one open U.S. House seat up for grabs Tuesday, though with Washington's Top 2 primary system, few local races, many with only two people running, will be impacted by the primary other than to give an indication of which way voters are leaning coming November.

For example, Breean Beggs and Larry Haskell are running for Spokane County Prosecutor, with current prosecutor not running for re-election. Both will automatically advance to the November general election. The same goes for the race for Spokane County Sheriff, with incumbent Ozzie Knezovich facing challenger Doug Orr.

On the other hand, in the race for U.S. House District 5, incumbent Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is facing challenges from Dave Wilson, Joe Pakootas and Tom Horne. The top two will advance to the election in November.

Washington's open US House seat draws crowd

A crowded field of candidates is vying for the open 4th District Congressional seat in the Washington primary election, with a dozen people -- eight Republicans, two independents and two Democrats -- seeking to replace retiring Republican Rep. Doc Hastings.

Republicans Dan Newhouse and Clint Didier are among the strongest candidates running in Tuesday's primary. Newhouse, a former legislator and state agriculture director, has raised the most money. Didier, a former NFL star who won two Super Bowl rings playing with Washington, has the most name recognition. He is a farmer from Eltopia who ran as a tea party candidate.

The 4th District in central Washington, which includes Yakima and the Tri-Cities, hasn't elected a Democrat since 1992. Hastings generally cruised to victory since winning the seat in 1994.

Primary a preview of key Washington Senate races

The Washington state Senate is up for grabs, prompting money and attention to pour in for the handful of races that will decide which party will ultimately control the chamber.

Primary election voting wraps Tuesday, and while the contest won't settle whether Republicans or Democrats will have the majority, it offers a preview of key races heading into November.

The election cycle could ultimately break up a Republican-dominated alliance -- known as the Majority Coalition Caucus, led by former Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom -- that has run the state Senate for two legislative sessions.

The majority Republican coalition holds a 26-23 advantage in the Senate, meaning a swing of only a few seats could determine control. Twenty-five of the chamber's 49 seats are at play this year.

Light turnout expected

Only about 40 percent of Washington's registered voters are expected to cast ballots in the primary. David Ammons, spokesman for the secretary of state's office, says that prediction may even be high. He says California and Oregon reported record low turnouts in their primaries.

Ammons says the 40 percent prediction is based on the past two midterm primaries in Washington. But those elections featured contests for a U.S. Senate seat.

The election is entirely vote-by-mail, which means between 50 percent and 60 percent of the vote should be tallied and released on Tuesday evening.

Spokane County Ballot Drop-Off Locations

The election is entirely vote-by-mail, which means between 50 percent and 60 percent of the vote should be tallied and released on Tuesday evening. Ballots may also be deposited at the Elections Office anytime at 1033 W Gardner but will not be accepted after 8 pm on Election Day.

Ballots can also be dropped off at the STA Plaza and the following Public Libraries across Spokane County until 8 p.m. Tuesday. A postage stamp is not required when using an official elections drop-off box. If you are mailing your ballot back, a first-class stamp is required.