If early returns hold up, the hardest part of the campaign may soon be over for law clerk David Sawyer.
His Democratic rival, labor organizer Ben Lawver, is running third with 24 percent behind Sawyer (first place, with 41 percent) and Republican Terry Harder (second, with 35 percent). That would eliminate Lawver if it stands.
Sawyer would still have to defeat GOP business consultant Harder in November, but it would be a huge upset for a Republican to win in the Democrat-heavy urban district.
The fight is taking place in the 29th Legislative District, covering South End and South Tacoma and parts of Lakewood, Parkland and Spanaway.
Sawyer made Lawver’s residence an issue, attacking his opponent as an opportunist for moving to the district this year while trying to sell his house farther north in central Tacoma. Lawver has moved in and out of the district throughout his adult life, while Sawyer grew up in Puyallup and moved to the 29th about two and a half years ago.
Sawyer cut his political teeth in Iowa in 2008 helping then-candidate Barack Obama win his first primary contest. He co-owns an advocacy and lobbying firm with former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.
Harder, who sells Staples products to small businesses and has owned his own computer-repair company, is making his third straight try at running for the Legislature.