What we learned from the initial primary results

As ballot counting continues in the 2016 primary, here are a few story lines emerging from the results already in hand.

Bill Bryant is in trouble

The path to the governor’s mansion for the Republican challenger is steeper than ever. Unless he finds a new gear for his campaign, he won’t overtake Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

Bryant garnered 38 percent on Election Day. That’s a sub-par performance. Inslee, meanwhile, captured 48.6 percent, which exceeded his effort in the 2012 primary. Bryant is still widely unknown, isn’t connecting well with Republican voters or connecting at all with disaffected ones on whose support he’s counting on this November.

Voters don’t want Democrats managing state bank accounts

They chose two Republicans — Duane Davidson and Michael Waite — to move on. And when one of those gentlemen wins this fall, Washington will have its first Republican state treasurer since Dwight Eisenhower lived in the White House.

Democrats John Paul Comerford and state Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, were third and fourth respectively early Wednesday, leaving Democrats without a finalist in a statewide race. How this happened isn’t obvious. But one can only wonder if retiring treasurer Jim McIntire’s call for an income tax last month influenced any voters. McIntire is a Democrat.

Voters do like Republicans overseeing elections

Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman produced the best showing by a GOP candidate for a statewide office. She tallied 48.5 percent in the initial night of ballot counting and held a 3-point lead on her hard-charging Democratic challenger, Tina Podlodowski.

But the rest of Wyman’s journey to re-election won’t be easy. Podlodowski has already raised more money and her Democratic Party is expected to outspend the GOP on turning out voters. However, history is on Wyman’s side as Washington has had a Republican secretary of state for the last 52 years.

These bucks didn’t get much bang

Stand for Children, the billionaire-backed education reform group that helped bring charter schools to Washington, spent big though independent committees and got mixed results on its investments.

It took on Supreme Court Justice Barbara Madsen by supporting her opponent, Gregory Zempel, with $130,000 worth of mailers and ads. Madsen garnered 64 percent and Zempel, the Kittitas County prosecutor, received 29 percent. The two will meet again in November.

Stand for Children funneled money through independent political committees to back Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, for lieutenant governor. He’s losing. In the race for state Senate in the 1st Legislative District, it gave money to Voters for Washington Children to pay for mailers endorsing Democrat Guy Palumbo and ads opposing Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Bothell. Moscoso led Palumbo on election night.

Four other candidates the group assisted through a PAC are advancing. They are state Sens. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, and Mark Mullett, D-Issaquah, Rep. David Sawyer, D-Lakewood, and Democratic candidate Brooke Valentine, of Black Diamond.

Should Hans Dunshee be worried?

One of the biggest eye-openers on Election Night was Republican Sam Low, a Lake Stevens city councilman, getting more votes than Dunshee, a Democrat, for a seat on the Snohomish County Council.

Dunshee is in the seat now by virtue of an appointment earlier this year. To keep serving, he must win in November. He and Low are assured of a showdown this fall because they were the only two candidates on the ballot. While that means the primary is little more than a mid-summer poll, its results foretell quite a story.

Sometimes being Republican is enough

Just ask Steve McLaughlin. He was the only Republican in the field of seven running for Commissioner of Public Lands. McLaughlin finished first with 39 percent and is likely to face Hilary Franz, a Democrat, in November.

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

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