Campaign season starts as candidates file for election

May 22, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The ballot voters receive in the mailbox by late July is all but certain to contain some familiar names, as elected officials campaign for higher offices and other candidates try another run for elected office.

The period for candidates to enter races up for election on the August and November ballots ended May 18 in a buzz of activity.

Local voters face choices in countywide, legislative, statewide and federal offices.

Voters pick the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, Aug. 7 in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

Elections officials attributed the intense interest among candidates in part to the presidential contest on the ballot, and the expectation of high turnout as voters choose between President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the GOP challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“The voters I’ve met as I traveled around the state in the past month are very enthused about this election, and you get the sense that it is a generational or ‘change’ election coming up,” Secretary of State Sam Reed, the top elections official in the state, said in a statement. “When you add the presidential election and potentially some very volatile ballot measures, we may see record voter registrations and record turnout.”

The timing of candidate filing is earlier than in previous years because state officials shifted the primary election to early August to accommodate mailing military and overseas ballots in time for Election Day.

Countywide, voters must decide on 115 elected positions. Statewide, 344 positions came up for grabs, including a high-profile race for governor.

“This year, there are 115 open elected offices for which candidates may file,” county Elections Director Sherril Huff said in a statement. “This being a presidential year election, we are anticipating extremely high voter turnouts.”

Besides the presidential election and a U.S. Senate race, open positions elsewhere on the ballot attracted attention from candidates during the filing period. Voters must also choose a secretary of state, attorney general and state auditor, state and federal lawmakers, plus numerous judges and local officials.

The list of local officeholders in the race for a higher post is sizable.

King County councilmen Reagan Dunn, a Republican, and Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, top the list of candidates for state attorney general. The incumbent attorney general, Republican Rob McKenna, is running for governor against former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, and a field of lesser-known candidates.

(Dunn represents rural areas south of Issaquah and Newcastle on the County Council.)

Issaquah School Board President Chad Magendanz, a Republican, is running for a 5th Legislative District seat in the state House of Representatives. Another candidate in the race, Democrat David Spring, ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2008 and 2010. Independent candidate Ryan Dean Burkett is also running.

Magendanz is running to succeed state Rep. Glenn Anderson. The longtime lawmaker and Fall City Republican is leaving the House to run for lieutenant governor. The field includes the incumbent, Democrat Brad Owen, and others.

The other 5th District seat in the House, occupied by North Bend Republican Jay Rodne, is not being contested, so he appears poised to cruise to re-election.

Issaquah Councilman Mark Mullet, a Democrat, opted to run against incumbent Republican Cheryl Pflug for the 5th District seat in the state Senate. The race also includes Republican Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman.

In the neighboring 41st Legislative District — post-Census 2010 redistricting divided Issaquah between the 5th and 41st districts — Mercer Island Democrat Judy Clibborn faces no opposition as she runs for another term as a state representative.

Republican Tim Eaves is challenging Renton Democrat Marcie Maxwell, the incumbent representative in the other 41st District House seat.

Incumbent 41st District Sen. Steve Litzow, a Republican, faces a challenge from another Mercer Island resident, Democrat Maureen Judge.

Most candidates for prominent offices started organizing, fundraising and campaigning months before the filing deadline.

Washington voters must also select political party precinct committee officers.

The officers serve as local party representatives in neighborhoods. In the role, the officer helps register people to vote and drums up party support by handing out campaign material and encouraging neighbors to vote.

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