Washington Holds First ‘Top Two’ Primary

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington’s Democratic governor, Chris Gregoire, and her Republican challenger, Dino Rossi, have advanced to the state’s general election.

It wasn’t a surprise that they would advance, but it was a milestone since Tuesday’s election was the first under Washington’s new “top two” primary system. Under this election system, the top two vote-getters in each race – regardless of party – will go on the general-election ballot.

Gregoire and Rossi will now reprise their historically close 2004 matchup, which saw Gregoire win the governor’s mansion by just 133 votes after three ballot counts and a court challenge.

“We’re winning in all four corners in the great state of Washingotn. We’ve worked hard over the last three-and-a-half years to create one Washington today we have one Washington with results for every single person in those respective counties,” Christine Gregoire said Tuesday night.

With about 10 percent of the expected ballots counted in the primary, Gregoire had about 50 percent of the vote and Rossi had about 44 percent.

“The deficit is going to force a painful set of choices,” challenger Dino Rossi said during a Primary night gathering. “The incumbent would be satified with raising taxes again. I won’t. Washington state can do much better. We need new leadership.”

In Congressional District 5 Republican Congressman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers maintained a wide margin against all challengers, gaining 50-percent of the votes tallied Tuesday evening. She leaves the primary with twice as many votes as challenger Mark Mays, who gained enough votes to advance to November’s general election.

Both Todd Mielke and Mark Richard are facing some serious challengers come November for their Spokane County Commissioner seats. Mielke is facing a stiff challenge from Dr. Kim Thorburn while Richard is facing Liberty Lake City Councilman Brian Sayrs. As of Tuesday night less than a percentage point separated both incumbents from the challengers.

Across the state in Western Washington Republican Congressman Dave Reichert and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner advanced to the general election in the 8th District of Seattle’s eastern suburbs. Another closely watched race, this one will be a rematch of their 2006 contest.

State Supreme Court Justices Charles Johnson and Mary Fairhurst also were top vote-getters for re-election and will be unopposed in the general election. With about 30 percent of the expected vote counted, Johnson had 58 percent. His closest opponent, James Beecher, had 30 percent.

Fairhurst nabbed 61 percent in early returns. Her lone opponent, Michael Bond, had 38 percent.

In the only statewide office without an incumbent running, the race for state treasurer, Republican Alan Martin and Democratic state Rep. Jim McIntire advanced to the general election. With 15 percent of the expected vote counted, Martin had nearly 44 percent of the vote and McIntire had about 41 percent.

They are vying to replace Treasurer Mike Murphy, who is stepping down after three terms. He crossed party lines to endorse Martin, who is assistant treasurer.

State schools chief Terry Bergeson advanced in the race for superintendent of public instruction, and challenger Randy Dorn is in line to advance as well.

Bergeson, running for her fourth term, faced five challengers in the primary. Dorn, a former legislator, teacher and principal, had nearly 30 percent of the vote in early returns. With about 17 percent of the expected vote counted, Bergeson had 42 percent.