State Senate primary is fast approaching

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The race to replace Sen. Maureen Walsh in Olympia is on.

But it’s not a sprint. It’s the high hurdles followed by what could be a brutal obstacle course as the candidates negotiate the restrictions created by the pandemic.

Two Republicans — Prosser’s Bill Jenkin and Waitsburg’s Perry Dozier — and a Democrat — Walla Walla’s Danielle Garbe Reser — are seeking the 16th Legislative District Senate seat left vacant by the retirement of Walsh.

Keep in mind that in Washington state the top two vote-getters in the Aug. 4 Primary Election — regardless of party affiliation — move on to the Nov. 3 General Election.

The primary will be a big hurdle for all three candidates, and the voting starts soon — in about two months. The ballots for the primary will be mailed on July 17.

That means the campaigns will be going full throttle in the midst of the pandemic lockdown.

A similar scenario will take place in the race for the seat on the Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners now held by Jim Johnson. The three candidates are Walla Walla Realtor Roger Esparza, Hot Mama’s Espresso co-owner Jenny Mayberry and former Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office employee Tom Cooper.

Although, since all three candidates have declared affiliation with the Republican Party, it’s certain it will be GOP vs. GOP clash in November. This is why the top-two system is far better than picking one Republican and one Democrat to go on to the final. If that were the case, this commissioner race would be over in August — and only a handful of voters would be able to vote.

It’s particularly important in a county commissioner race because the only people who can vote in that primary contest are those who live in District 1, which covers the south side of the county. The entire county votes for the District 1 position in November. Now all will get the chance to select the new commissioner.

Another interesting primary contest will be for governor.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, has 35 challengers. Yes, you read that right — thirty-five.

That’s because the pandemic moved Inslee to waive the signature requirement for those who can’t pay the filing fee in all races. For governor that is about $1,800 (1% of the annual salary).

Many of the other statewide races also have longer than usual lists of candidates.

Take note and study up. The race to the first hurdle is only about two months away.