Turnout determines outcome. That’s the case with all (free) elections, obviously, but it is particularly true for midterms, where a high-octane presidential contest is not driving the masses to the polls. And primaries for midterms? Well, even fewer voters care to cast a ballot for those, which means that your vote means even more. That is a big deal in a year like this one, where the top two finishers from the primary will head to a general election that could very well shift the power balance in Olympia and introduce a congressional check on presidential powers. And so, with that in mind, we implore you to put your thumb on the scales of democracy and help determine who will appear on the November ballot. We have put together summaries of all the races on any Seattleites’ ballot, as well as endorsements from other publications and relevant stories. The rest is up to you.
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In the weeks leading up to each election, this newsletter gives context on the races, candidates and more.
United States Senator
Maria Cantwell — The Stranger
Sen. Maria Cantwell, who has held this seat since 2001, came within an hour of an uneventful re-election cakewalk. Then Susan Hutchison, the chair of the state Republican Party and a former Seattle news anchor, announced her run for the office and things got way more interesting. That isn’t to say that the field was sparse without Hutchison. Quite the opposite. With 29 total candidates — including perennials like Goodspaceguy and Alex Tsimerman, as well as alt-right provocateur Joey Gibson — the race is taking up a lot of ballot space. Cantwell, a long-serving Democrat who leans toward the center on most issues, is all but assured to get through the primary. Who will she face? A Spokane Spokesman Review article noted the possibility that the Republican vote could be split in a way that could lead to Cantwell facing another Democrat, likely more left leaning. But the conventional wisdom is that Cantwell will be facing Hutchison, who stood firm with Donald Trump when other state Republicans were questioning his 2016 presidential candidacy.
Thor Amundson (Independent)
Dave Bryant (Republican)
Jon Butler (Independent)
Maria Cantwell (Democrat)
Brad Chase (FDFR Party)
Art Coday (Republican)
James Robert “Jimmie” Deal (Green Party)
Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente (Republican)
Jennifer Gigi Ferguson(Independent)
Matt Hawkins (Republican)
Joey Gibson (Republican)
Matthew D. Heines (Republican)
Steve Hoffman (Freedom Socialist Party)
Susan Hutchison (Republican)
Charlie R. Jackson (Independent)
George H. Kalberer (Democrat)
Mike Luke (Libertarian)
John Orlinski (Republican)
Tim Owen (Republican)
Don L. Rivers (Democrat)
Mohammad Said (Democrat)
RC Smith (Republican)
Dave Strider (Independent)
Glen R. Stockwell (Republican)
Keith Swank (Republican)
Clint R. Tannehill (Democrat)
Alex Tsimerman (StandUpAmerica Party)
Sam Wright (Human Rights Party)
U.S. Congressional Representative, District No. 1
Suzan DelBene — The Stranger
Suzan DelBene has no opposition from fellow Democrats as she seeks her fourth term in Congress. DelBene has focused on job creation throughout her tenure, like in her 2017 bill to boost veteran employment or her aid in the passage of a 2014 farm bill that sought to aid farming families through investments and funding. She has also twice promoted a bill prohibiting the creation of a religious registry as a response to President Trump’s attempts at a “Muslim ban.” Republican challenger Jeffrey Beeler, a member of the Sultan City Council, boasts endorsements from the King and Skagit County Republican parties. The other Republican, Arlington-based attorney Scott Stafne, gained a little more than 3 percent of the vote in the 2016 primary, when he ran as a Libertarian. Independent Adam Pilskog, a school teacher, has a website with his thoughts on major issues.
U.S. Congressional Representative, District No. 8
When David Reichert announced last fall that he would not be running for re-election, Washington’s 8th Congressional District was thrust into a national storyline that has Democrats attempting to seize the House from the Republicans. The reason? While Reichert easily won his seventh term in 2016 by 20 points, Hillary Clinton actually carried the district by 3 points. Without Reichert, a party-line Republican still remembered as the sheriff who took down the Green River Killer, the district appears to be in play. Republican State Senator Dino Rossi is almost certain to make it through the primary. He has received the blessing from the party, raised a boatload of dough, and has district-wide name recognition from his unsuccessful runs for governor (twice) and U.S. Senate. Who his opponent will be is less clear, but resumes and fundraising amounts suggest three possibilities, all Democrats: former King County deputy prosecutor Jason Rittereiser; a former director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shannon Hader; and Issaquah pediatrician Kim Schrier. This is the race to watch on election night.
Candidates:Keith Arnold (Independent/No Party)
Tom Cramer (Democrat)
Patrick Dillon (No party preference)
Bill Grassie (Independent Centrist Party)
Shannon Hader (Democrat)
Jack Hughes-Hageman (Republican)
Todd Mahaffey (No party preference)
Gordon Allen Pross (Republican)
Richard Travis Reyes (Libertarian)
Jason Rittereiser (Democrat)
U.S. Congressional Representative, District No. 9
Sarah Smith — The Stranger
In his two decades in the House, Democratic incumbent Adam Smith has built a reputation as moderate — he’s focused much of his attention on national defense issues over the years — but he has recently shifted toward more progressive stances. In his 2016 campaign, for instance, Smith emphasized economic issues, gun safety and tax reform aimed at increasing the share paid by the wealthy. Still, he faces a challenge not just from a Republican, Doug Basler, but also left-leaning Democratic newcomer Sarah Smith (no relation to the congressman). Following the upset in New York of a mainstream Democratic congressman by Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, The Progressive highlighted Sarah Smith’s campaign, calling out the incumbent’s heavy contributions from defense contractors and his 2017 vote with Republicans (and more than 100 other Democrats) for higher military spending. Progressives can hope for a Smith vs. Smith showdown in November, but Basler — a King County Republican Party official, entrepreneur and radio host — has never scored less than 23 percent of the vote in two previous primary and general election races. So, primary turnout will need to bend leftward for Sarah Smith to earn a place on the general election ballot.
Legislative District No. 30, State Senator
Democratic hopes to hold onto — and further solidify — all the power in Olympia rest on a handful of swing districts. This is one of them. But while party leaders have a history of targeting this seat, they also have a history of losing those races. It’s been particularly frustrating because the party already holds the district’s two House seats. Incumbent Republican Mark Miloscia aims to keep them frustrated. The one-time Democrat's previous support for a minimum wage hike and the repeal of the death penalty puts him at odds with many Republicans, but his anti-abortion views land him firmly in the red. Two Democrats are fighting alongside him for a spot on the fall ballot. Claire Wilson is a member of the Federal Way School Board and a career educator. Tirzah Idahosa is founder of Democrats for Diversity and Inclusion and has worked in corrections and as a paralegal.
Legislative District No. 32, State Senator
The solidly Democratic district has been represented by longtime liberal activist Maralyn Chase since 2011. Before that she was a state representative for nine years. Long before that she marched against the Vietnam War. Now she faces challenges from both a Democratic vice mayor of Shoreline, Jesse Salomon, and a Republican, firefighter James Wood. The voters in the district, which includes a slice of northwest Seattle, Shoreline and southwest Snohomish County, continue to send Chase back to Olympia. But editorial boards are united in their opposition. The Stranger gave its endorsement to Salomon, saying that it wasn’t impressed (well, they used stronger wording) with him but that Chase was a part of why Democrats fail to deliver on health care and other issues before the Legislature. The Seattle Times editorial board, which has never liked Chase's progressivism, found her lecture about industrial automation during an endorsement interview a sign that it’s really time for her to go.
Legislative District No. 32, Representative Pos. 1
Since first winning this seat six years ago, former Shoreline mayor Cindy Ryu has gone on to chair the Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee and the Members of Color Caucus in Olympia. She is likely to make it through to the general where she would face one of two lower-profile candidates, Keith Smith and Diodato (Dio) Boucsieguez. Boucsieguez shares his website with two other Republican candidates, promoting typically Republican objectives like fiscal responsibility and smaller government. Smith, however, calls himself a “centrist” and seeks to separate himself from party lines, promoting government transparency and a broader tax base. But both candidates say that they support the state Public Records Act, a contrast to Ryu’s choice to vote for Senate Bill 6617, which sought to weaken the act.
Legislative District No. 32, Representative Pos. 2
Current representative Ruth Kagi is retiring after 20 years, leaving behind a legacy of work on behalf of children and families. But new faces seeking to take the position hope to fill in this gap with propositions to strengthen communities of their own. Chris Roberts, currently a Shoreline City Councilmember and its former mayor, is seeking criminal justice reform and attention to workers’ rights. Lauren Davis focuses on substance-abuse treatment in her platform and is the founding executive director of the Washington Recovery Alliance, promoting suicide-prevention efforts and safe injection sites. Frank Deisler, a former paramedic in New York and King County Precinct Committee Officer, also wishes to address substance-abuse, but has a different approach: he wants to prevent the creation of safe injection sites and end free needle programs.
Legislative District No. 33, State Senator
Incumbent Karen Keiser has been a well-regarded Democratic state senator since 2001 and does not appear to be facing the kind of challenge that would prevent her from reaching the general. She is, after all, the only Democrat running, and the district — which covers Normandy Park, Des Moines, SeaTac, and parts of Burien and Kent — leans left. Kun Wang, an independent Republican, hasn’t been especially active in the race and Charles Schaefer, Keiser’s Libertarian opponent promoting government transparency and accountability, has no background in electoral politics.
Legislative District No. 34, State Senator
The retirement of Sharon Nelson has left an open seat in a district that is all but certain to remain in Democratic hands. It’s no surprise, then, that Democratic candidates dominate in this unusually large pool of contenders — there’s seven of them, compared to two Republicans, one Independent and one without party preference. Shannon Braddock has risen as a strong Democratic contender, receiving a wide array of endorsements, including one from Nelson herself, while other candidates like Democrats Joe Nguyen, Sofia Aragon and Annabel Quintero and Hillary Shaw, who has no party preference, show new faces and a diversity of politics that matches the region, which encompasses Vashon Island, West Seattle, White Center and Burien.
Sofia Aragon (Democrat)
Shannon Braddock (Democrat)
Lemuel W. Charleston (Democrat)
Lisa Ryan Devereau (Democrat)
Darla Green (Republican)
Courtney Lyle (Republican)
Joe Nguyen (Democrat)
Annabel Quintero (Democrat)
Lois Schipper (Democrat)
Hillary Shaw (No party preference)
Debi Wagner (Democrat)
Legislative District No. 37, Representative Pos. 2
The race to represent the district covering Beacon Hill, Central District, Rainier Valley, Columbia City, Rainier Beach and Renton isn’t garnering much enthusiasm among editorial boards. The incumbent Pettigrew has earned the two big endorsements, but neither publication is all that excited about the candidate: The Seattle Times and The Stranger both seem to be hoping for a stronger future challenger. Still, Pettigrew seems likely for re-election as Tamra Smilanich hasn’t been a publicly active opponent and John Dickinson’s platform remains somewhat confusing.
John Dickinson (No party preference)
Eric Pettigrew (Democrat)
Tamra Smilanich (Independent)
Legislative District No. 41, Representative Pos. 1
Democrat Tana Senn faces no intraparty opposition in her run for re-election in the 41st, a district represented entirely by Democrats. She was first appointed in 2013 following the resignation of Marcie Maxwell, who left to be the senior education policy adviser to Gov. Jay Inslee. An advocate for public education funding, she is running against Republican candidate Tim Cruickshank, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL and health care worker who opposes a state income tax and emphasizes equal education opportunities, and Libertarian candidate Nathaniel Deily, a Bellevue-based Microsoft employee.
Legislative District No. 41, Representative Pos. 2
The Democrats are losing one of their longest-serving representatives in Olympia with the retirement of Judy Clibborn, who has served since 2002. Three candidates are vying to begin their own tenure representing the entirety of both Newcastle and Mercer Island. Two of those candidates are Democrats, both coming in with a wealth of policy experience: My-Linh Thai, who shows strong interest in education following her time on the Bellevue School Board, and Wendy Weiker, a member of the Mercer Island City Council who has been endorsed by Clibborn. Michael Appleby, the race’s sole Republican candidate, is a small business owner hoping to fully fund education and strengthen transportation by creating an elected board of directors for Sound Transit.
Legislative District No. 43, Representative Pos. 2
House Speaker Frank Chopp has held this seat since 1994 and there is no reason to think that he won’t continue holding it, much less fail to advance to the general election. Progressive voters have shown discontent with Chopp’s performance in the past — which is unsurprising, considering the district’s liberal landscape, from Capitol Hill to Fremont to the University District. But both of Chopp’s challengers — Republican Claire Torstenbo and Independent Boris Joffe — are first-time candidates, which means one of them will have a steep hill to climb in an attempt to claim victory in November.
Legislative District No. 47, Representative Pos. 1
In an especially dynamic swing district — one that contains both the state’s Democratic House majority leader and a moderate Republican — incumbent Mark Hargrove isn’t necessarily a shoe-in for re-election. He has earned a strong Republican following in his district after years of supporting businesses like Boeing and running on a platform promoting limited government and fiscal responsibility. And he has supported an anti-transgender bathroom bill and an anti-abortion bill, which gives sole Democratic opponent Debra Entenman plenty to talk about. She also boasts a dozen years of experience working for Congressman Adam Smith and myriad left-leaning endorsements. James Dillon, an independent, has not been as active in the race as Entenman and Hargrove.
Legislative District No. 47, Representative Pos. 2
Democratic House leader Pat Sullivan is the incumbent in this race, for which the seven-term legislator has drawn two Republican challengers. A moderate who represents Covington and surrounding areas, Sullivan’s most notable recent accomplishment came with the 2017 passage of the McCleary school-funding solution, of which he was an architect. His challengers are Ted Cooke, a software tester, and Lindsey Shumway, a health coach.
Legislative District No. 48, State Senator
Two Democrats and an independent are running in the district encompassing Redmond, Bellevue and Kirkland. The lack of a Republican candidate might not seem so surprising given the area’s last few left-leaning elections. However, Rodney Tom has a history with the right, creating a marked contrast with incumbent Patty Kuderer. As the Seattle Times puts it, he’s “an independent-minded man” who ruffled feathers after a 2006 Republican-to-Democratic party switch and then, later, joining Republicans in Olympia to help keep senate Democrats in the minority in 2013. Now he's back for more, still with the Democratic Party, but assuring that there will be plenty of differences to talk about, even if both Dems make it to the general.
Northeast Electoral District, Judge Position No. 1
Marcus Naylor — The Stranger
The one thing that all three of the candidates for this District Court position have in common is that they are all, at the very least, qualified for the position, according to the King County Bar Association. That is not always the case.
King County Proposition No. 1
Regulatory property tax levy, automated fingerprint identification system services
This levy will be used to fund King County’s Automated Identification Fingerprint Service, a tool that has been used by police throughout the county for the last 30 years without much fuss. But now that the county wants to upgrade to a system that would allow the county to "research and pilot other types of biometrics and technology to help investigators solve crimes more efficiently and accurately," it just got a little more complicated.