Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Schmick, Kelley advance in 9th District; GOP's Schmick gets 62 percent of the vote in primary"

If Tyana Kelley "hopes to represent working-class families in Olympia," I have some advice: don't insult the vehicles those families drive and stop supporting a tax-and-spend legislature and governor that have run up a $2.7 billion deficit and now threaten to institute a state income tax. If you want to get more than 32% of the ballot in the rural conservative 9th District, you can't run on an urban liberal platform.

I can tell you that when it comes to campaigning, nobody can outhustle Joe Schmick. And you'll never meet a more humble, down-to-earth guy.

The primary results also show why the "Top Two" primary is undemocratic. Green Party candidate Christopher Winter is now knocked out of the general election. Third parties will never have a chance now. Up north of Spokane, in the 7th Legislative District, two Republicans, Sue Lani Madsen and Shelly Short, will face off in the general election. In Seattle, there are districts where only two Democrats will compete. I don't see how the "Top Two" system is the celebration of "traditional Washington values" it has been proclaimed to be. Voters have even less choice than before.

From today's Lewiston Tribune:
State Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Democratic challenger Tyana Kelley made it over the first hurdle in their efforts to represent Washington's 9th Legislative District in Olympia for the next two years.

The two participated in the district's only contested race during Tuesday's primary election, seeking to fill the state House position 2 seat. Schmick is leading with 11,015 votes, or 62 percent of the ballots cast; Kelley, of Pullman, received 5,792 votes, or 32 percent. But a number of ballots mailed Tuesday still had to be counted.

Green Party candidate Christopher Winter, of Clarkston, was in third place with 1,036 votes, or 6 percent of the ballots cast, on his way to becoming a casualty of Washington's new top two primary rules. Historically, he would have advanced to the Nov. 4 general election regardless of the primary results, because he represents a different party than Schmick or Kelley. This year, however, only the two highest vote-getters advance.

Tuesday's election results came in the middle of harvest time for Schmick, who operates a farm in the Colfax area, where he grew up.

"I'm thankful for the support I've seen," he said. "I'm humbled by it. It's an honor to serve and represent the people. I hope I never lose that feeling."

Schmick, who was appointed to the Legislature last November, said he's traveled around the district trying to meet as many people as possible, and plans to keep at it during the general election campaign.

"Talking to people and listening to their concerns is what's put me in this position," he said. "I'm going to continue to do that."

Kelley is a board member and volunteer coordinator for the Pullman Civic Theatre. She grew up in a union family and hopes to represent working-class families in Olympia.

Tuesday's results "were pretty much to be expected," she said. "I was hoping for a closer spread, but I think we'll see a little fluctuation" as the remaining ballots are counted.

In addition to his lead at the vote count, Schmick also has a sizable advantage in campaign funding. As of July 31, he reported more than $35,000 in contributions, including funds rolled over from 2007. By comparison, Kelley had received $4,835.

"He has some significant backing, but I'm hoping my showing in the primary will convince more people to donate to my campaign," Kelley said. "The good news is, my biggest expense is going to be gas for driving around the district to meet people, and I have enough money to pay for that."

Winter, a sociology instructor who teaches online and live classes, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Voters also cast ballots in two other 9th District races, although neither was contested.

Incumbent Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, is unopposed in November. In the district's House position one race, incumbent Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, will square off against Democrat Kenneth Caylor. Hailey was leading with 64 percent of the primary vote, compared to 36 percent for Caylor.

The 9th District covers the southeastern corner of Washington, from the Oregon border north to Cheney and as far west as Othello.

The county-by-county breakdown of the voting for position 2:

Adams County: Schmick, 73 percent; Kelley, 23 percent; Winter, 4 percent; voter turnout, 38 percent.

Asotin County: Schmick, 54 percent; Kelley, 39 percent; Winter, 7 percent; voter turnout, 41 percent.

Franklin County (partially in district): Schmick, 78 percent; Kelley, 19 percent; Winter, 3 percent; voter turnout, 25 percent.

Garfield County: Schmick, 74 percent; Kelley, 24 percent; Winter, 3 percent; voter turnout, 52 percent.

Spokane County (partially in district): Schmick, 59 percent; Kelley, 35 percent; Winter, 6 percent; voter turnout, 29 percent.

Whitman County: Schmick, 63 percent; Kelley, 31 percent; Winter, 6 percent; voter turnout, 26 percent.

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