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It’s not too early to start focusing on the Aug. 7 primary

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on May 22, 2012 at 5:40 pm with No Comments »
May 22, 2012 4:23 pm

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Campaign season won’t last forever; it’ll just seem that way as election signs sprout like weeds on roadsides and snarky ads start dominating television ad nauseum.

On Nov. 7, we’ll all sigh with relief, even if our favorite candidates lose, simply because it will all be over.

While much of the election season sturm und drang will be generated by the presidential race, voters should start focusing on a host of important state and local offices – including the entire U.S. and state House of Representatives – that also will be on the ballot.

Voters can start doing their homework now by reading news stories, attending forums and going online to candidates’ websites, where many of them post their positions.

The Aug. 7 primary will whittle the sometimes crowded fields down to the top two vote-getters for each position; those survivors will face each other in the Nov. 6 general election. But in several judicial races – ones with only two candidates – the primary will decide the winner.

Waiting until the general election to get up to speed means passing up the chance to help elect a state Supreme Court justice and five Pierce County Superior Court judges.

Statewide positions that haven’t been open (without an incumbent) for eight or more years are being contested: governor, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general. And in state legislative races, Secretary of State Sam Reed is seeing an “unprecedented” number of vacancies due to a wave of retirements. That means a lot of new faces in Olympia come January.

The 6th Congressional District seat is being hotly contested now that Norm Dicks is retiring after 36 years. And the South Sound has a brand new congressional district – the 10th – which includes Lakewood, University Place, Olympia and Shelton.

Locally, three County Council seats are being contested in the primary. But the most-watched race likely will be for Pierce County assessor-treasurer now that embattled incumbent Dale Washam has announced he’ll seek a second term.

If voters have been paying any attention at all, they’ll select two of his four challengers to advance to the general election. Any one of them – County Councilman Tim Farrell; former Tacoma City Councilmen Mike Lonergan and Spiro Manthou; and Billie O’Brien, administrative manager of the assessor-treasurer’s office – would be a vast improvement over the disastrous Washam.

When county voters elected Washam four years ago, they had an excuse: the ranked choice voting system that skirted a primary – and the period of time before a general election when all of his shortcomings could have been amply publicized. There’s no such excuse this time.

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