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State Primary Election Results Roundup: Is A Blue Wave Coming?

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Empty envelopes from Washington state's primary election are shown stacked Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, at King County Election headquarters in Renton, Wash.

This story was updated Wednesday at 5:44 p.m. with results from the Pierce County prosecutor's race.

Early primary results are confirming many of the expectations of those closely watching the races. But they also seem to speak broadly about Democrats' chances in Washington going into November.

8th Congressional District

The open U.S. House race in the 8th, which includes parts of eastern King and Pierce counties as well as parts of Kittitas and Chelan counties, has garnered national attention after longtime Republican Rep. Dave Reichert announced last year he was retiring.

Republican real estate developer Dino Rossi led the primary crowd, with 43 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning. 

But the real question is who among a crowded list of Democrats will go on to face Rossi in the general. As of Wednesday, pediatrician Kim Schrier took nearly 19 percent of the vote, leading former King County deputy prosecutor Jason Rittereiser by more than 1,200 votes.

After initial results Tuesday night, Schrier told supporters in Issaquah, "Things are looking good."

In Ellensburg, Rittereiser remained hopeful saying his campaign is close "to a victory and taking this thing on with Dino Rossi in November and ultimately on to D.C."

State Rep. David Sawyer Trails In Tacoma

Embattled Democratic state Rep. David Sawyer of Tacoma was in third place in early primary returns, an indication of the political fallout he’s facing over numerous allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women and an investigation that found he violated House harassment policy. 

As of Wednesday morning, Sawyer had 23 percent compared to Democratic challenger Melanie Morgan, who led the four-way race with 40 percent of the vote. Republican Terry Harder held the second place spot with 24 percent.

In a statement Tuesday night, Sawyer said, “There was an orchestrated smear campaign that was dishonest, but it is politics and I respect the will of the voters.”

Sawyer added that if the vote trend in the coming days puts him into the top two, he will “work hard” to win the support of voters in November.

Reached by phone, Morgan praised the women who came forward to share their experiences with Sawyer.

“I think that a message was sent to everyone tonight that we will no longer tolerate harassment against women," Morgan said.

This week, Sawyer was prominently featured in a New York Times story about candidates accused of misconduct who were, nonetheless, running for election.

Senate And 5th Congressional District

This race in Eastern Washington is tigher than many observers expected.

Early results put incumbent Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers just half a percentage point ahead of Democratic challenger Lisa Brown.

A poll last spring showed McMorris Rodgers with a four-point lead over Brown.

McMorris Rodgers told supporters in Spokane Tuesday night that she has a track record that merits another term in Congress.

"I'm proud of my record from results. Everything from hydropower to helping kids with disabilities to health care to helping small businesses -- getting results," shes aid.

She also defended her tough television ads that brand Brown as "Dangerously Liberal." 

When Brown spoke to her supporters Tuesday, she took her own shots at McMorris Rodgers.

"She voted against equal pay for women and children's healthcare at both the state and federal levels, and she said she hopes her personal story will help lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade," Brown said.

Statewide, Republican Susan Hutchison will face off with incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in November.

Cantwell took 55 percent of the vote on the crowded ballot. Hutchison had nearly 24 percent.

Blue Wave Coming?

A number of Republican incumbents for the state Legislature were trailing their Democratic challengers Tuesday night in early returns.

That could have big consequences for state politics if that continues into November. Democrats took control of the state Legislature last year by just one vote. 

Former GOP Party Chair Chris Vance, who has since left the party and is now leading an effort to recruit more independent candidates to run for office, said on Twitter this looks like 1994 in reverse. That was the year Republicans swept to power nationally and in Washington state.

At the Congressional level, Democrats were also making a strong showing in three races where Republicans currently hold the seat: in the 3rd District in Southwest Washington, the 5th in Eastern Washington and the 8th which spans from the Seattle suburbs to Wenatchee.

Challenger Ahead In Pierce County Prosecutor's Race

Assistant Washington Attorney General Mary Robnett is outpacing incumbent Mark Lindquist in the race for Pierce County Prosecutor.  As of Wednesday, Robnett had 55 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for Lindquist.

Lindquist, a Democrat, is running for a third term. He says, as prosecutor, he's helped make the community safer. Robnett, who once worked in the Pierce County Prosecutor's office says there's aneed for change.

"The primary focus of the office seems to be on political advancement and image control rather than just doing the work of the people," she said on Wednesday.

Robnett is on the ballot as non-partisan.

In an email to supporters, Lindquist said it was a mistake not to focus more on Robnett's "personal and ethical failings."

Lindquist was at the center of a long running battle over release of his text messages and, in a different matter, may face disciplinary action from the Washington State Bar.

The contest is the most expensive county race in the state. Between them, the candidates have raised about $400,000.

Paula Wissel contributed to this report.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.
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