OLYMPIA — Washington voters are narrowing down candidates for dozens of contests in Tuesday’s “top two” primary, including the governor’s race and an open U.S. House seat.
By 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, with 26 percent of ballots counted, the Washington Secretary of State website showed that Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who dropped a presidential bid last year, will advance to the general election, with Loren Culp, a Republican who is the police chief of Republic in eastern Washington, running in second place.
Culp was among 35 opponents in Inslee’s bid for a rare third term. Governors in Washington state aren’t subject to term limits, but the last three-term governor was Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965-77.
A handful of Republicans raised the most in their effort to unseat Inslee: Joshua Freed, the former mayor of Bothell; anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman; Yakima doctor Raul Garcia; and state Sen. Phil Fortunato.
In the initial count of ballots on Tuesday night:
Inslee led statewide tallies for governor with 645,920 votes, or 51.92 percent, and Culp had 207,918 votes, or 16.71 percent. Freed was the next closest at 90,346 votes (7.26 percent), followed by Eyman with 87,615 votes (7.04 percent).
A Republican has not occupied the governor’s office in more than three decades.
In Clallam County, the top two contenders on Election Night were Inslee (11,051 votes, 49.39 percent) and Culp (4,823 votes, 21.55 percent).
In Jefferson County, the top two were Inslee with 6,739 votes (70.64 percent) and Culp with 1,484 votes (15.56 percent).
In other statewide offices, Democratic U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who had previously announced he was retiring from Congress, was advancing in the race for lieutenant governor along with Democratic Sen. Marko Liias.
Current Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, a Democrat, announced he was leaving to become a Jesuit priest, and the race drew 11 candidates, including Ann Davison Sattler and Marty McClendon, both Republicans.
Heck led initial primary returns with 332,831 votes (27.76 percent), and Liias had 199,465 votes (16.64 percent).
Democrat Mike Pellicciotti was leading incumbent Duane A. Davidson for state treasurer with 655,226 votes (54.11 percent). Davidson, a Republican, also will advance with 554,187 votes (45.77 percent).
Republican incumbent Kim Wyman and Rep. Gael Tarleton, a Democrat, were advancing in the race for Secretary of State as Wyman received 613,318 votes (50.16 percent) and Tarleton had 546,415 votes (44.69 percent).
For attorney general, the top-two vote-getters in initial returns were incumbent Bob Ferguson, a Democrat, received 693,930 votes (56.73 percent), and Matt Larkin, a Republican, received 287,466 votes (23.5 percent).
For state auditor, incumbent Pat McCarthy, a Democrat, had 580,309 votes (48.16 percent) and Chris Leyba, a Republican, had 489,614 votes (40.63 percent).
Incumbent Hilary Franz, a Democrat, was leading in initial returns for the commissioner of public lands with 616,266 votes (51.61 percent), while Sue Kuehl Pederson, a Republican, won 259,918 votes (21.77 percent) to advance in a race that drew five other candidates.
For the superintendent of public instruction, incumbent Chris Reykdal, a Democrat, received 452,121 votes (40.32 percent) and will advance to face either Maia Espinoza or Ron Higgins.
Of those two, Espinoza had the lead in initial returns with 269,106 votes (23.99 percent) and Higgins had 226,819 votes (20.22 percent).
Voters also have decided their local legislative races, with all 98 state House seats and 26 of the Senate’s 49 seats on the primary ballot. Democrats hold a 28-21 majority in the Senate and a 57-41 edge in the House.
Final results may take days as the mail-in ballots are counted in each county.