Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Early primary election returns favor Schmick; District 9 representative appears likely to face Pullman Democrat in general election"

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Washington District 9 Rep. Joe Schmick has a commanding lead after the first round of ballots were counted in the state's top-two primary election.

Schmick, R-Colfax, has received 11,015 votes (61.7 percent) thus far in the race for his Position 1 seat. Challenger Tyana Kelley, D-Pullman, has garnered 5,792 votes (32.5 percent), and Green Party candidate Christopher Winter of Clarkston received 1,036 votes.

Whitman County voters also supported Schmick, who received 2,948 votes (63 percent) to Kelley's 1,462 votes (31 percent). Winter received 282 votes in Whitman County (6 percent).

Mail-in ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday to be counted in the primary, and results from a second round of counting will be released Friday afternoon. The top two vote-getters will face each other in the Nov. 4 general election.

Schmick said he's pleased to receive so much support from people in his district.

"I think it's an affirmation that people are grateful for what I was able to accomplish for them," said Schmick, who was appointed to the position in November when David Buri stepped down to take a job with Eastern Washington University. "I don't think you can go through this and not be anxious, but I was very pleased."

Kelley also is excited about moving on to the general election.

"Everyone told me not to worry too much ... but I didn't want to discount any candidates, so I'm very happy," she said. "My goal in the primary was to move on, and I did."

Both candidates agreed the hard part is still ahead. They'll start the "parade season" Saturday at the National Lentil Festival in Pullman.

"I think we've been running a really strong campaign, and we want to continue doing what we've already been doing," Kelley said. "The more doors we can knock on and the more personal contact with voters we have, I think it will pay off in the end."

Schmick said he looks forward to the challenge leading up to the general election.

"It has been an honor to represent the people in the 9th District," he said. "I'm overwhelmed by how good the people are to work with. And I will continue to work hard for them."

The District 9 Position 1 seat was the only local race that featured more than two candidates.

In other contested races, newcomer Pat O'Neill, D-Colton, has received 584 votes (56 percent) in his bid to unseat Whitman County Commissioner Position 2 incumbent Jerry Finch, R-Pullman, who received 453 votes (44 percent).

District 9 Position 1 Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, received 11,315 (64 percent) to challenger Kenneth Caylor's 6,254 votes (36 percent). Caylor is a Democrat from Odessa. Their results in Whitman County were similar, with Hailey garnering 2,901 votes (63 percent) to Caylor's 1,678 votes (37 percent).

This is the state's first primary election under the top-two system, which was approved by 60 percent of Washington voters in 2004 and recently was upheld by a 7-2 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. It allows voters to pick one candidate for each office without regard to party.

According to Whitman County elections Web site, ballots have been received from 4,939 of the 18,928 registered voters in the county (26 percent) and 1,200 of them have yet to be counted.

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