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The answer right now: Inslee, whose huge margin in King County swamped big leads McKenna piled up in Eastern Washington.
When the state’s 39 counties finished their election-night tallies — traditionally more than half of what’s expected to be in the final count — former Congressman Inslee led Attorney General McKenna by about 31,000 votes, or 46.77 percent to 42.93 percent.
Between them, they had nearly 90 percent of the votes, with the remaining seven underfunded and generally unknown candidates dividing the rest.
Inslee used his election night lead to reiterate a call for an economy that “puts the middle class first, competes with any other place in the world and creates whole new industries and the jobs that come with it.”
McKenna emphasized education as the path to prosperity and contended he has the more specific plan to make that happen.
He also made a pitch for post-primary unity among Republicans, saying “it’s time for folks to join together to work for a better state.”
U.S. Senate race
The primary, with lower-than-predicted turnout, provided few surprises in statewide races for executive offices — or for U.S. Senate, in which incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, is outpolling her nearest challenger, Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner by 55.77 percent to 30.24 percent.
As with every nonjudicial race in the “top two” primary, the slates are wiped clean for the general election Nov. 6.
Here are the likely November face-offs in other statewide races:
■ Lieutenant governor: Incumbent Brad Owen, with 49.71 percent of the total votes cast, a Democrat, will face former state Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, a Republican who received 24.94 percent.
■ Attorney general: Democrat Bob Ferguson has a substantial lead, 52.22 percent, over Republican Reagan Dunn, 38.34 percent, in the race to replace McKenna as state attorney general.
The two King County councilmen far outpaced private attorney and activist Stephen Pidgeon.
■ Lands commissioner: Democrat Peter Goldmark, the incumbent, finished the night with 51.69 percent, over Republican Clint Didier, a former pro football player turned Eastern Washington farmer who garnered 40.66 percent.
■ Secretary of state: Two Thurston County women, County Auditor Kim Wyman, the only Republican in the seven-person race, easily finished first with 39.16 percent of the vote.
She will likely face former legislator Kathleen Drew, a Democrat who drew 21.6 percent.
Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, a Democrat, is in third place with about 16 percent.
■ State auditor: Republican James Watkins, 45.62 percent, topped three Democratic legislators in the state auditor race.
In second place is state Rep. Troy Kelley with 24.14 percent.
■ Insurance commissioner: Democrat Mike Kreidler, the incumbent who gained 54.7 percent of the vote, appears headed for his third contest against Republican John Adams, an insurance broker who received 22.17 percent.
Schools chief race
In most statewide executive races, the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of party or the margin of votes between them.
The exception is state superintendent of public instruction, a nonpartisan office in which a candidate who collects more than 50 percent in the primary goes on to the general election alone, all but assuring his or her election.
One-term incumbent Randy Dorn is in a position to do just that after Tuesday night’s tally.
Dorn faced four challengers in the primary, but finished Tuesday night with 54.32 percent of the vote.
Dorn leads in every county and racked up more than 63 percent of the vote in King County.
State Supreme Court Justices Susan Owens and Steve Gonzalez easily retained their seats in Tuesday’s primary, while Seattle appeals lawyer Sheryl Gordon McCloud and former Justice Richard Sanders were leading a crowded field seeking to replace the retiring Tom Chambers.
Owens — a former District Court judge in Forks — had 63 percent of the vote and was leading in every county against two challengers in early primary returns, good enough to secure her a third term.
Court of Appeals
In a crowded race for judge in the state Court of Appeals, Division 2, District 2, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula, Pamela Loginsky, 27.57 percent, and Thomas Bjorgen, 18.18 percent, were the top two leaders.
Only 2,238 votes separated the Bjorgen and the attorney in third place, Brendan Williams, who received 15.69 percent of the vote in first tallies.