Wash. voters weigh in on crowded primary ballot

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington voters have a crowded primary ballot to decide on, choosing which candidates to advance to the general election in dozens of races ranging from governor to the Supreme Court.

Secretary of State Sam Reed is predicting a 46 percent turnout for Tuesday's primary, though only about half the ballots are expected to be returned by election night.

Washington is a vote-by-mail state, and all of its 3.7 million voters received their ballots weeks ago. Voters have to have their ballots postmarked and in the mail by Tuesday, or they can drop them off at specialized boxes around the state by 8 p.m.

The top statewide race that voters are considering is the campaign to replace Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is not seeking a third term. Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna and Democratic former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee are expected to easily advance to a November matchup that likely will be one of the most competitive governor's races in the nation.

Also being decided in Tuesday's primary are several other high-profile races in which the competition for the top two places is more pitched, including a crowded ticket for the 1st Congressional District, the seat from which Inslee resigned to focus on the governor's race.

Seven people are campaigning for the seat in the newly redrawn 1st District: Democrats Suzan DelBene, Darcy Burner, state Sen. Steve Hobbs, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar; Republican John Koster; and independent Larry Ishmael.

All but Hobbs and Ishmael also are seeking to advance in a special election for the final month of Inslee's term for his seat before redistricting.

In statewide races, U.S. Maria Cantwell is seeking her third term and is expected to easily advance to the November ballot, along with Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner. Voters also will decide several other races, including lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, three state Supreme Court seats and dozens of legislative seats.

In some races, the primary will be more decisive. The three seats for state Supreme Court, as well as the race for the state's top education post, are subject to special rules that allow any candidate who gets more than 50 percent of the vote to advance alone to the general election ballot.


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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.