By Rachel La Corte | The Associated Press
OLYMPIA — The governor’s race in November is set, and Democrats appear to be the top two candidates in the lieutenant governor’s race.
Tuesday night, incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who is seeking to become the first incumbent elected to a third term in the state in more than 40 years, advanced to the general election with 52 percent of the vote. With nearly 17 percent of the vote, Republican Loren Culp, the police chief of the small city of Republic, had the largest share among 35 other candidates.
Second counts of ballots on Wednesday confirmed the results.
Inslee briefly ran for his party’s Democratic presidential nomination last year and has been a frequent and high-profile critic of President Donald Trump.
“At such a pivotal moment, Washington state needs the opposite of Trump-style chaos,” Inslee said in a statement.
Culp, who got national attention after saying he wouldn’t enforce gun regulations approved by voters in a 2018 ballot measure initiative, campaigned against Inslee’s coronavirus restrictions like mandatory masks, saying they infringed on people’s constitutional rights.
Culp told The Seattle Times Tuesday night that people were tired of COVID-19 mandates from Inslee.
“They are ready for individual freedom and liberty being returned to this state, where citizens have the choice on what they want to do in their personal lives and business, and not have it dictated to them,” he said.
Culp beat several other Republicans, including Joshua Freed, the former mayor of Bothell, anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman, Yakima doctor Raul Garcia and state Sen. Phil Fortunato.
In the race for lieutenant governor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who had previously announced he was retiring from Congress, also advanced to the general election, with nearly 28 percent in early returns. Vying for the second spot on the November ballot were Democratic Sen. Marko Liias, followed by Republican Ann Davison Sattler. They are running to succeed current Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who announced earlier this year that he was leaving to become a Jesuit priest.
The two races were among dozens of federal, statewide and local races that voters decided in the state’s top-two primary, in which the top two vote-getters advance to the November ballot, regardless of party.
Last-minute voters had until 8 p.m. Tuesday to drop their ballots off at drop-off boxes around the state, so votes will continue to be counted throughout the week.
All 10 of the state’s U.S. House seats are on the ballot, but Heck’s 10th Congressional District seat is the only one without an incumbent seeking another two-year term. Democrats currently hold seven of the seats, and Republicans hold three.
Voters also weighed in on nine statewide elected offices, including attorney general, auditor and lands commissioner, with all of the Democratic incumbents advancing to the November ballot with healthy margins against Republican challengers: state Auditor Pat McCarthy will face Chris Leyba, Attorney General Bob Ferguson will face Matt Larkin, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz will face Sue Kuehl Pederson, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal looked likely to face Maia Espinoza, and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler will face Chirayu Avinash Patel.
The only two statewide positions held by Republicans — secretary of state and treasurer — are expected to be competitive in the fall. Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Democratic state Rep. Gael Tarleton both advanced to the November ballot, with Wyman amassing more votes than Tarleton.
Treasurer Duane Davidson and his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, were the only two candidates on the primary ballot and automatically advanced to the general election.
Voters also weighed in on 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.