Oh, what a night: Seattle parks measure looks like a winner. Tim Sheldon may survive primary. Pam Roach staring at big challenge ahead.
by Joe Copeland
It's that time again: Washington goes to the polls. Credit: King County Elections/Flickr
Summing up: 5 big votes
10:23 p.m. Here are the key results from the first-night vote counts in the Tuesday primary. Remember, results will continue to roll in for most of the next two weeks, with most big daily updates posted late in the afternoon. Official tallies won’t be certified until Aug. 19.
1. Seattle Proposition 1, which would create a metropolitan parks district with expanded property tax authority, is leading with 52.3 percent voting yes.
2. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, a nominal Democrat whose victory is crucial to Republican control of the state Senate, appears to be surviving (barely) a primary challenge from Democrats and a libertarian. Democrat Irene Bowling is ahead, but Sheldon appears to have enough votes to squeak into second place, which would secure him a spot on the general election ballot.
3. Republican state Sen. Pam Roach failed to eliminate her Republican primary challenger, state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist. They will face off in the general election this November.
4. Tea Party Republican Clint Didier will go against fellow Republican Dan Newhouse for Doc Hastings’ former Fourth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
5. Republican hopes to mount a substantive challenge to first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene fizzled. The expected challenger, former Microsoft engineer Pedro Celis, was languishing in third place, and in danger of elimination, with only 15 percent of the vote. Dark horse Robert J. Sutherland, a retired biochemist and party activist in Snohomish County, was in second with 15.9 percent.
Pramila Jayapal sweeps to huge lead
9:30 p.m. In the wide-open race for southeast Seattle’s 37th District, Pramila Jayapal, an immigration rights activist, made a strong showing. She collected more than 51 percent of the vote in the district, which includes parts of Renton and Tukwila. Second place appears to be going to fellow Democrat Louis Watanabe, an entrepreneur and college business instructor, who had 17.2 percent of the first-night's returns. The only Republican in the race, Rowland Martin, had 11.5 percent. The open seat, created by state Sen. Adam Kline’s decision to retire, drew six candidates, the largest field in a state legislative race this year. — J.C.
Roach can't shake her fellow Republican challenger
9:02 p.m. Longtime state Republican Sen. Pam Roach can count on the fight of her political life this fall. She’s running neck-and-neck with fellow Republican, state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, in the 31st District, which includes Auburn and Enumclaw and stretches east to the Cascades. In early primary returns, the sometimes-combative and always colorful Roach had 40 percent of the vote to Dahlquist’s 39.2 percent. Lynda Messner, running as a nominal Democrat but with a Tea Party-oriented background, has only 20.6 percent. Dahlquist's supporters viewed Messner as an ally of Roach, who was running in order to eliminate Dahlquist in the primary. — J.C.
Tim Sheldon in the mix
8:48 p.m. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, a Democrat who has helped Republicans control the state Senate, is in a tight race in the 35th District, on the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. Democrat Irene Bowling holds an early lead, with 34.8 percent of the vote. Sheldon is just behind with 33.4 percent, but libertarian Republican Travis Couture is nipping at Sheldon's heels, with 31.7 percent. Democrats hope to see Sheldon eliminated by a third place finish, so that Bowling can go head-to-head with Couture in the fall. — J.C.
First results: Parks in squeaker
8:27 p.m. Supporters of the proposal to create a Seattle Metropolitan Parks District reacted with jubilation and relief to their nearly 5 percentage point lead in the first results. The vote on proposition 1 broke 52.3 percent yes to 47.6 percent no in the only count that King County will release until Wednesday afternoon. Park supporters expressed confidence that their lead will hold up.
"We expect the margin will grown, but it's wait-and-see time," said Sandeep Kaushik, spokesperson for the pro-Prop 1 group Seattle Parks for All. Supporters believe a strong get-out-the-vote effort will sustain their lead through further counts, even if there is a dip in the next tally.
Under Prop. 1, the parks district would have new property taxing authority, something supporters said was necessary to assure a strong future for Seattle parks. The measure would replace an expiring property tax levy with a slightly larger tax, and the potential for substantial increases in the future. Seattle City Council members, acting as the metropolitan parks board, would govern the new parks district, distributing funds for parks and recreation programs and to other institutions, such as the Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle Aquarium. — J.C.
Parks measure: Lots of financial support
6:35 p.m. There’s talk that balloting for Seattle’s Proposition 1, creation of a citywide Metropolitan Parks District, will be close. King County’s only tabulation of results tonight will come in at around 8:15 p.m. One thing that wasn’t close: the campaign funding gathered by the supporters and opponents.
And here are the top contributors on each side. (Faye Garneau is a business person and civic activist. Jon L. Hanson is listed as retired; he has given to a few city campaigns in recent years and at least one Democratic congressional campaign. Alyne Fortgang is co-founder of Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, which has campaigned for moving the zoo’s elephants to a sanctuary. )
Anyone else feel claustrophobic?
6:06 p.m. There’s a crowd of a dozen candidates running to replace U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, Central Washington’s long-serving Republican member of Congress. One big question is whether a Democrat will even reach the top two for the fall general election.
Seattle has a somewhat similar situation in the south end’s 37th Legislative District, where Democratic state Sen. Adam Kline is retiring. The Secretary of State’s Office says the field of six is the biggest anywhere in Washington. There’s one Republican and five Democrats. But the district is so deeply blue that a fall faceoff between two Democrats is regarded as highly likely.
Democrat Pramila Jayapal led in fund-raising, making her the favorite for one of the spots — so much so that a representative of one of her rivals sent out a press advisory for use in case the candidate makes it to the top two with Jayapal.
The primary that sets the table
4:52 p.m. Voters across the state are in the final few hours of casting ballots for the August 5 primary, which is largely a table setter for what could be a furious fall fight over control of the state Senate.
Most of the races involve the state Legislature, with all seats in the House of Representatives and half the Senate seats up for grabs. Says political veteran Chris Vance (watch for his analysis on Crosscut once the dust starts to settle): “Tonight we find out if the Democrats have a real shot at taking back the Senate.” Crosscut's John Stang will be monitoring tonight's results for the first indications.
There's a lot at stake in the Senate fight: Democrats and Republicans have dramatically different ideas on how to meet the state Supreme Court's mandate to improve support for public schools, and the differing approaches will have a lot of bearing on revenue decisions and on how much money is available for other state services. On climate change, Dems want to limit or tax carbon emissions; Republicans would prefer to push nuclear power and limit regulations on businesses. And then there's the l-o-n-g standoff over a gas tax hike to support a package of transportation improvements.
Central Washington voters are narrowing a field of 12 congressional candidates down to two, who will face off in November over who takes over the seat left open by retiring U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings.
In Seattle, voters are deciding whether to increase taxes modestly to support parks and create a new metropolitan parks district that would manage the funds.
Remember: Your ballot has to be postmarked today, or you have until 8 p.m. to get the ballot returned to drop-boxes or pick-up spots. Here's King County's list of drop-off spots; information on the three accessible voting centers is here. — J.C.
4:52 p.m. King County Elections had received about 265,000 ballots this morning, pretty much in line with what was expected, according to spokeswoman Barbara Ramey. County Elections Director Sherill Huff has predicted that just 38 percent of voters will cast their ballots.
King County is likely to have a couple of hot races in the fall election that will decide who controls of the state Senate, particularly the 45th District on the Eastside (Republican incumbent Andy Hill vs. Democratic challenger Matt Isenhower) and the Federal Way area's 30th District (Democrat Shari Song vs. Republican Mark Miloscia). — J.C.