A plane tows a Trump banner Oct. 17 over Possession Sound in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

A plane tows a Trump banner Oct. 17 over Possession Sound in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Five things to watch in this election, and none named Trump

Senators are under fire, a sex-ed law is under attack and a non-partisan race has gotten very partisan.

OLYMPIA — An election four years in the making arrives Tuesday.

Not every contest will have its outcome determined by day’s end, possibly not even the one for president, because millions of votes will have yet to be counted.

Hey, we in Washington are accustomed to an adrenalin rush when the initial vote tally is released at 8:15 p.m. on election night, followed by emotional ups and downs with daily ballot count updates until, at last, everything is tallied and the final result known.

This year could be different. With way more than half the ballots in hand, it might actually be clear, with some degree of confidence, who are the winners and which measures have passed.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

Battle zones: Republican Sens. Steve O’Ban of University Place and Ron Muzzall of north Whidbey Island are fighting for their political lives in two swing districts. O’Ban’s duel with Democrat T’Wina Nobles of Fircrest in the 28th Legislative District is the most expensive contest for a legislative seat this cycle, with close to $4 million getting tossed around collectively by the candidates, their political parties and special interests looking to sway voter minds. Muzzall, appointed to his 10th District seat earlier this year, is up against Democrat Helen Price Johnson of Clinton in a tussle that’s seen nearly $3 million expended to build up and tear down the candidates.

Family feud: Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet of Issaquah is a target, too, this election — by forces in his own party. His challenger is another Democrat, Ingrid Marie Anderson of Snoqualmie Valley. She enjoys the strong backing of Gov. Jay Inslee and the benefit of nearly $1.3 million in spending by two labor power houses, the SEIU Washington State Council and Washington Education Association. Mullet’s offense is his moderate politics, which have frustrated unions and impeded Inslee’s agenda — chiefly the governor’s pursuit of a capital gains tax and low carbon fuel standard. An Anderson win will move the caucus leftward and put other moderate and pragmatic Democratic senators on notice that they could be under fire next.

Surf’s up: Will there be a Blue Wave in Washington? And if so, how big? Democrats are looking for a surge of anti-Trump fervor in suburbs to produce victories for their candidates down-ballot. Wins by Nobles, Price Johnson and Anderson would be evidence of a strong set. If Democrat Carolyn Long unseats Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in southwest Washington, it would boost the magnitude. It would become a Giant Wave if a Democrat is elected secretary of state, which last happened in 1960, when a guy named Kennedy topped the ticket for the party. This year, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman is up against Democratic state Rep. Gael Tarleton, whose main point of attack is tying the incumbent to Trump in hopes of surfing in on any wave that forms.

Sex, ed and politics: With Referendum 90, voters are getting the final say on a social policy crafted and pushed through by Democrats over the strident objections of Republicans. The measure lets voters retain or repeal a new law that requires every public school district to enact a comprehensive sexual health education curriculum for grades K-12. The law won’t mean a great deal of change for many districts that already have a curriculum in place. Yet the notion of Olympia dictating to every local school district on the teaching of sex ed quickly became a rallying cry for conservatives, who gathered the most signatures for a referendum ever — and did it in spite of the pandemic.

The value of labels: Chris Reykdal was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016 by a tiny margin. For a while this year, it seemed his re-election would come a little easier. Not so much of late. This is a non-partisan seat, but in recent days Reykdal asked his Democratic friends and allies for help, a sign his passionate opponent, Maia Espinoza, might be resonating more strongly with voters than he anticipated. Inslee and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal blasted Espinoza at a news conference. Former Vice President Joe Biden found time to endorse Reykdal. And the Washington Education Association spent $600,000 boosting Reykdal. The point was to make sure voters knew he is a Democrat and she is a Republican in this race for a non-partisan seat. We’ll soon know if it worked.

And finally, if you’re reading this Tuesday and realize you want to vote, it might not be too late. Washington law allows you to register and vote right up until 8 p.m. You can find out where to go on the Snohomish County auditor’s website or by calling 425-388-3444.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood woman sentenced for stabbing Bellingham woman while she slept

Johanna Paola Nonog, 23, was sentenced last week to nine years in prison for the July 2022 stabbing of a woman she’d recently met.

Granite Falls
Man presumed dead after fall into river near Granite Falls

Around 5 p.m. Sunday, the man fell off smooth rocks into the Stillaguamish River. Authorities searched for his body Monday.

Pilot found dead near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger’s wife reported he never made it to his destination Sunday evening. Wreckage of his plane was found Monday afternoon.

Firefighters respond to a fire on Saturday morning in Lake Stevens. (Photo provided by Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue)
1 woman dead in house fire east of Lake Stevens

Firefighters responded to find a house “fully engulfed in flames” in the 600 block of Carlson Road early Saturday.

YMCA swim instructor Olivia Beatty smiles as Claire Lawson, 4, successfully swims on her own to the wall during Swim-a-palooza, a free swim lesson session, at Mill Creek Family YMCA on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Splish splash! YMCA hosts free swim lessons around Snohomish County

The Y is building a “whole community” of water safety. On Saturday, kids got to dip their toes in the water as the first step on that journey.

Bothell
2 injured in Bothell Everett Highway crash

The highway was briefly reduced to one northbound lane while police investigated the three-car crash Saturday afternoon.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

The Eternal Flame monument burns in the center of the Snohomish County Campus on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Elected officials to get 10% pay bump, or more, in Snohomish County

Sheriff Susanna Johnson will see the highest raise, because she was paid less than 10 of her own staff members.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.