OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee cruised to victory in Tuesday’s primary but it might be a few days before it’s clear who he will face in November.
Republican Loren Culp had a secure hold on the second spot ahead of other GOP candidates, Tim Eyman and Joshua Freed, further back in the initial round of ballot counting.
Meanwhile, two Democrats, Congressman Denny Heck of Olympia and state Sen. Marko Liias of Lynnwood lead a crowded field in the race to succeed retiring Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib. Republican Ann Davison Sattler is a distant third.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who is seeking a second term, easily won his primary. He’ll face either Maia Espinozaor Ron Higgins, who are dueling for the second spot.
And incumbent Democratic U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene and Pramila Jayapal had comfortable leads in their respective bids for re-election.
Tallies from the next round of ballot counting are scheduled to be released throughout the day Wednesday.
Inslee, a Democrat, is seeking a rare third term as governor. The last Washington executive to achieve that feat was a Republican, Dan Evans.
Inslee, who had 35 challengers on the ballot, collected 51.9% of the vote.
Culp, chief of police in the Eastern Washington town of Republic, garnered 16.7%, followed by Freed, a former Bothell mayor, with 7.3%. Eyman, a professional initiative promoter making his first bid for political office, had 7%.
Yakima physician Raul Garcia, who had the backing of Republican stalwarts including Evans and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, garnered 5% in the first round of ballot counting.
Freed reported raising $1.6 million — close to half is his own money — and Culp was next at $1.2 million, according to campaign finance records.
Inslee had raised $5.5 million with almost half of it unspent heading into the general election.
The governor’s handling of the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic is certain to be a central issue. Culp, Freed and Eyman all have repeatedly criticized Inslee’s decisions and have urged defiance of some restrictions imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Larsen, of Everett, led five challengers by a wide margin in the 2nd Congressional District. He had 51.9% followed by Republican Timothy Hazelo of Oak Harbor with 14% and Democrat Jason Call of Marysville with 12.2%.
In the 1st District, DelBene, of Medina, is headed for a rematch with Republican Jeffrey Beeler, a Sultan City Councilman. She captured 56.5% to his 32.2%. The two faced off in the 2018 election and DelBene won by nearly 20%.
In the 7th District, Jayapal, of Seattle, hauled in 80% and will likely match up against Republican Craig Keller who had 8.1%. The two also battled in 2018 with Jayapal pulling in a whopping 82.7%
Heck, one of the last of the 11 candidates to enter the race, garnered 27.8%, followed by Liias with 16.6%. Sattler, who ran for Seattle City Council in 2019, had 11.5%.
Early in the year, Heck announced he would not seek reelection to Congress and intended to retire. Then Habib declared he would not seek another term, creating an opening for the job that is first in succession to governor.
Heck put retirement on hold and jumped in. He’s raised $726,000, more than three times any other hopeful.
Liias, who is the majority floor leader in the state Senate, campaigned as the strong voice for progressives and hauled in $207,000, the second-highest sum in the race.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Reykdal, a former Democratic state lawmaker who did not win the primary in 2016, led with 40.3%.
Espinoza and Higgins collected 24% and 20.2%, respectively. Though this is a nonpartisan office, each is a Republican and sought support from those in the Grand Old Party.
Whoever emerges is going to focus on Reykdal’s support of a new law mandating that public schools adopt sexual health education curricula for all grade levels. Espinoza and Higgins both oppose the law and are urging its repeal this fall by rejecting Referendum 90.
Dennis Wick, a former Snohomish School District director, finished fourth.
Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is pursuing a third term, collected 56.7% against three Republican challengers.
He will likely face Matt Larkin who had 23.5%. His endorsements include Granite Falls Rep. Robert Sutherland, Snohomish Mayor John Kartak, and GOP stalwart Dino Rossi.
Brett Rogers of Lake Stevens was in third with 12.4% followed by Mike Vaska, whose supporters include Snohomish County Council Chairman Nate Nehring and a former state attorney general, Rob McKenna, with 7.2%.
Secretary of State
Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman will face Democratic state Rep. Gael Tarleton this November as Democrats make another run at a job long held by Republicans.
Wyman, who is seeking a third term as the overseer of the state’s election system, led Tarleton, a four-term state representative from Seattle, 50.2% to 44.7%.
Commissioner of Public Lands
Hilary Franz, the incumbent Democratic commissioner, will face Republican Sue Kuehl Pederson, a fisheries biologist, for the four-year job overseeing the state Department of Natural Resources.
Franz, who is pursuing a second term, received 51.6% to Pederson’s 21.8%.
Democrat Mike Kreidler, who has served as insurance commissioner since 2001, was comfortably ahead of Republican Chirayu Avinash Patel and Libertarian Anthony Welti of Marysville.
Kreidler, a former state lawmaker and congressman, had 60.1% to Patel’s 27.9% and Welti with 11.7%.
Democrat Pat McCarthy is moving on to the November general election and a shot at a second term after winning the primary with 48.2%.
She will face Republican Chris Leyba , who had 40.6%.
As the only candidates in this race, incumbent Republican Treasurer Duane Davidson and Democratic state Rep. Mike Pelliciotti automatically advance to November.
Pelliciotti made a strong statement Tuesday as he led Davidson 54.1% to 45.8% in the initial round of ballot counting. Davidson is seeking a second term.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @dospueblos.