A full ballot awaits voters


Herald Writer

Keep going down that ballot — there’s a lot more to it than just the presidential race.

Voters in Tuesday’s election will have congressional, state and local races to decide.

Three-term Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, a 40-year veteran of public life, seldom has an easy time winning in Democratic-leaning Washington, and this year is no exception. In Maria Cantwell, he has drawn a challenger 30 years his junior, with an enormous checkbook and a fresh image of a New Economy, centrist Democrat.

Both camps predict they will win by 3 percentage points.

Democrat Gov. Gary Locke is expected to win his second term, and fellow Democratic incumbents are favored for attorney general, auditor, treasurer and lieutenant governor.

The three closest races all feature former Democratic congressmen seeking open statewide offices — Mike Lowry against Republican Doug Sutherland for lands commissioner, Don Bonker against GOP contender Sam Reed for secretary of state, and Mike Kreidler against Republican Don Davidson for insurance commissioner.

School chief Terry Bergeson advanced to the ballot without opposition, as did Supreme Court Justices Gerry Alexander and Bobbe Bridge. Two open seats on the high court have drawn heavy interest.

Snohomish County is the battleground for the two most hotly contested congressional races in the state. The Jay Inslee/Dan McDonald fight for the 1st District seat and the John Koster/Rick Larsen contest for the 2nd District have been watched across the country.

The race results flip-flopped on political watchers in the primary election. Koster did much better than expected, and McDonald’s numbers were lower than forecast. But the campaigns have had a month and a half to shore up their support and raise bundles of money. Both Republicans had fewer dollars to play with than Democrats Inslee and Larsen, but outside groups poured millions into the campaigns for both sides.

Voters in the 1st District, which includes southern Snohomish County, rarely re-elect anyone. The spot in the 2nd District, which runs from Mukilteo north to the Canadian border, is open because U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf, R-Wash., is honoring his commitment to term limits and retiring.

For two years, the state House has labored under a 49-49 tie, so both parties are struggling mightily for the upper hand. Neither side is predicting a shift of more than a few seats, and both sides fear it the races will be decided by absentee ballots. Most independent analysts figure the Senate will stay narrowly in Democratic control.

Several of the legislative races to watch are in Snohomish and Island counties.

In the 1st District, in southern Snohomish County, incumbent Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, faces a well-funded challenger in Republican Leo Van Hollebeke, a former Democratic county chairman whose father was a Democratic senator. McAuliffe had a healthy lead in the primary election, but Van Hollebeke has raised more money.

Two experienced legislators are going at it in the 10th District, which includes all of Island County, the northwest corner of Snohomish County and the southwest corner of Skagit County. Incumbent Rep. Dave Anderson, D-Clinton, is in trouble against Republican Barry Sehlin of Oak Harbor, a former three-term state representative with formidable backing from his party. They were nearly even in the primary results, but that was with about 8 percent of the Republican vote siphoned off by Sehlin’s GOP challenger.

In Snohomish County’s 39th District, which runs basically from the I-5 corridor east, incumbent Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, is considered vulnerable but still the favorite against Republican challenger Dan Kristiansen. In the primary, Dunshee received about 51 percent of the vote compared with Kristiansen’s 34 percent, but the Republican total increased to 46 percent including the other GOP contestant.

In the district’s open seat, which was vacated by Koster, who’s running for Congress, Democrat Liz Loomis received 43 percent of the vote in the primary. The combined GOP vote was 54 percent. But Loomis, a Snohomish city councilwoman, has raised a significantly larger war chest than Republican Kirk Pearson, a special assistant to Metcalf.

In the 44th District, in south Snohomish County, incumbent Democratic Rep. John Lovick, a state trooper, faces Republican challenger Irene Endicott, an author and speaker. Both are from Mill Creek, and both are well funded by their respective parties.

Development is the biggest issue in the two races for Island County commissioner seats. Democrat Lynne Wilcox is challenging Republican incumbent William "Mac" McDowell for the District 2 spot, and Republican incumbent Mike Shelton is facing a challenge from Democrat William Rowlands.

Political newcomer Tim Harrigan is challenging Kathy Vaughn, a Snohomish County PUD commissioner.

A half-dozen communities will be voting on ballot issues, such as fire district levies, specific to their communities.

Local ballot issues range from a rotting fire hall to a leaking reservoir. There will be levies and bond measures to fund firefighters in Stanwood, Arlington and the Getchell area, pay for maintenance for Monroe’s parks and replace Clinton’s 31-year-old, wooden water reservoir that’s leaking 9,000 gallons a day.

Six initiatives might seem like a lot for one ballot, but several states have even more.

Tim Eyman, the Mukilteo sponsor of last year’s car-tab measure, is back with plans on road-building and property-tax relief. Three school measures, providing more local funds, automatic pay raises for teachers and authorizing charter schools, are on the ballot. Animal-rights groups hope to outlaw most animal trapping.

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