No primary night surprises in WA's marquee statewide races

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by Associated Press

KING5.com

Posted on August 7, 2012 at 8:43 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 7 at 10:27 PM

Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee will face each other on the November ballot for governor after easily advancing through Washington state's top two primary.

Early results Tuesday night had McKenna with 46 percent of the vote and Inslee with 43 percent, putting them far ahead of seven other contenders in the gubernatorial contest.

[Get the latest primary election returns on KING5.com.]

Under the state's "top two" primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.

McKenna and Inslee have each raised more than $7 million already, and their campaigns have been focused against each other for months.

They are vying to replace Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is not seeking a third term.

U.S. Senate

Maria Cantwell, Washington's junior senator, easily won enough votes to move to the fall general election. She'll face Republican Michael Baumgartner, who was garnering the second most votes following an early tally from Tuesday's primary election.

The Democrat Cantwell is seeking her third term.

Baumgartner was elected to the state Senate in 2010. The Pullman native is trying to become the first Republican elected to the United States Senate from Washington since Slade Gorton in 1994.

Attorney General

Republican Reagan Dunn and Democrat Bob Ferguson have advanced to the November election in the attorney general's race.

Early results from Tuesday's primary showed both men garnering enough votes to move on in Washington's top two system. Dunn and Ferguson are both King County Councilmembers. Dunn, a former federal prosecutor, has emphasized his law enforcement experience. Ferguson has said he'd use the office to focus on protecting consumers from fraud.

The attorney general oversees more than 1,100 people, including 525 attorneys. The current two-year budget for the office is about $229 million.

Lt. Governor

Longtime incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and Republican Bill Finkbeiner have advanced to the fall election.

The Democrat Owen, who has served 16 years, garnered the majority of the votes following early vote counts. Finkbeiner, who previously served as the Republican majority leader in the state Senate, finished second.

Along with presiding over the Senate, which is the most visible part of the job, the lieutenant governor is in command when the governor is out of state.

Public Lands Commissioner

Incumbent Peter Goldmark will face Republican challenger Clint Didier in the fall in the race for commissioner of public lands.

Goldmark was getting the most votes in early primary returns Tuesday night, with Didier coming in second. The top two vote getters advance.

Didier is a farmer and rancher in Franklin County, and ran unsuccessfully for the GOP Senate nomination in the 2010 election. Goldmark, a Democrat, is seeking his second term.

The lands commissioner controls 1 million acres of farmland, 2 million acres of forest land and 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands. One of the roles of the lands commissioner is to use those lands in a productive manner to generate money for various state operations.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

It's looking like Randy Dorn will advance to the fall election uncontested in the race for superintendent of public instruction.

Dorn, the incumbent, was getting over 50 percent of the primary vote Tuesday. Dorn was the only superintendent candidate who has raised any money to support his campaign.

Under Washington's top-two primary system, the top two vote getters running for superintendent of public instruction go on to the general election, unless one person earns 50 percent plus one vote. In that case the candidate getting more than 50 percent moves on to the general election alone.

Insurance Commissioner

Incumbent Mike Kreidler has advanced to the fall election in the state insurance commissioner's race. The Democrat will face Republican John Adams.

Kreidler was getting over 50 percent of the vote in early primary returns Tuesday night, with Adams placing in second. The top two finishers advance to the November contest.

State Auditor

Business development consultant James Watkins advanced to the fall election in the race for state auditor, where he'll likely face state Rep. Troy Kelley.

The Republican Watkins from Redmond was getting the most votes in Tuesday's primary, with Democrat Kelley of Tacoma coming in second.

Longtime Democratic incumbent Brian Sonntag is retiring after 20 years.

State Supreme Court

Washington Supreme Court Justices Susan Owens and Steve Gonzalez have easily retained their seats, and Seattle appeals lawyer Sheryl Gordon McCloud is leading a crowded field seeking to replace retiring Justice Tom Chambers.

Owens is winning than 63 percent of the vote against two challengers in early primary returns Tuesday night. Gonzalez is taking 57 percent over little-known Seattle lawyer Bruce Danielson, who is carrying many of the state's rural counties.

Candidates who win half the vote advance unopposed to the general election. If no candidate wins 50 percent, the top two advance.

That's the case so far for the seat being vacated by Chambers. McCloud is leading with nearly 32 percent of the vote. Former Justice Richard Sanders is collecting 27.5 percent, King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer 25.6 percent, and former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg 15 percent.
 

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