King County Executive Dow Constantine was expected to win the August primary, and his likely goal was to break 50%, which makes it hard for an opponent to raise money. Constantine took 53%, but in this case, I expect the race to tighten up the closer we get to November because Joe Nguyen should be able to raise money and believes Constantine’s record is open to criticism on the left.
Primary election night in King County was a light turnout of 13% to 17%, although that will get closer to 35% in a week, depending on the area and favored conservative candidates. Note the conservative members of the King County Council were challenged by progressives, and two of the three looked very strong. But there were also some surprises, and the surprises may not be done yet because there are still lots of ballots to be counted before the primary is certified. Only the top two finishers advance to November.
The county council is technically non-partisan, but all have adopted one party or the other. In District 3, Kathy Lambert polled 41% and will face Sarah Perry, who was at 34%, which suggests a Perry upset could be brewing when you add Joe Cohen’s 23% Democratic votes to Perry’s votes.
In District 7, Pete von Reichbauer took 55% in a four-way race where the two most likely contenders — Lydia Assefa-Dawson at 16% and Saudia Abdullah at 12% — were trailing political unknown Dominique Torgerson, who took second with 16.5% on primary night. Both of the more well known candidates will add to their totals in late arriving ballots and will try to move on to second place. But it may not matter in November because whoever emerges is unlikely to beat Pete von Reichbauer.
In District 9, Reagan Dunn took 57% on primary night and will face Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khanh Van, who was at 21%, although Chris Franco has an outside chance to overtake her as ballots are tallied daily.
As expected in the race for Seattle mayor, former Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell at 38% was leading current council president Lorena Gonzalez, who was at 28%. Colleen Echohawk was expected to be in this close battle, but only secured 8% because the high number of candidates split up the vote. The big surprise in Seattle was the race for City Attorney, as incumbent Pete Holmes was outflanked by his competitors, and at 32%, he may not make the final. On the right is Ann Davison at 34%, and on the left is Nicole Thomas-Kennedy at 33%. Seattle rarely supports candidates who have run as a Republican, so if Holmes doesn’t advance, then Thomas-Kennedy becomes the frontrunner.
Burien was a hot bed of politics as two city leaders found themselves in tight races that will continue until November. Mayor Jimmy Matta and his opponent, Mark Dorsey, were both at 43% primary night. Burien Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx, who had drawn five opponents, was leading in her race with 28% and will likely face either Stephanie Mora or John White.
In Bellevue, Conrad Lee has been on the Bellevue City Council for over 20 years and Dexter Borbe, his opponent, is a small business owner who was endorsed by the Seattle Times. Borbe only raised $26,574, but forced Lee to raise $147,000 to keep his job, and was leading Borbe, 57% to 26%. Lee will have plenty of money left over for the general election.
In Federal Way, the first of two surprises occurred as Daniel Miller took 39% of the vote to join incumbent Hoang Tran at 36% in the fall runoff for that city council seat. Miller was a surprise because he had not campaigned or raised much money other than putting his brochures at the Republican booth at the Federal Way Farmers Market. Early advantage goes to Tran.
With the combined Republican vote at 58% in Federal Way City Council Position 6, the other surprise saw former councilmember and Republican Jack Dovey at 34% appear to get enough votes from fellow Republican incumbent Martin Moore at 25% to knock Moore out of the top two in favor of Renae Seam, who will get Democratic votes in November. Dovey and Seam represent different generations, political goals and views of the role of city government in the community. Dovey will start out as the frontrunner, but by November, it should be a closer race as more progressives turn out to vote. In addition to police reform, solving the homelessness challenge, economic development and affordable housing, Federal Way voters should also listen for clues on how the candidates feel about changing the form of government back to a council-manager form, which is something Dovey has made subtle references to supporting.
In Auburn, incumbent Yolanda Trout-Manuel at 60% of the vote will face Hanan Amer at 25% for her council seat in November . Another big primary winner was Kent City Councilmember Brenda Fincher, who took 77% of the vote in a three-way race. That is likely to be repeated in November.
In Renton City Council Position 1, James Alberson at 53% will face Joe Todd at 30%. In position 2, Carmen Rivera was leading incumbent Angelina Benedetti, 35% to 22%, opening the door for Ben Johnson at 23% to pass Benedetti for the second spot.
For the Kent School Board Position 4, Awale Farah is leading 43% to 31 % over Brad Kenning, which could get close by the fall. However, Tim Clark’s lead at 53% might be enough to hold off Sara Franklin at 29% for Kent School Board Position 5.
In the race for Federal Way School Board Position 4, incumbent Trudy Davis at 35% was leading Jim Storvick at 34% in what could be a close race in November.
There are some things to keep in mind when evaluating whether your candidate can still win. This was a low turnout primary election, and a whole new set of voters will vote in November. Conservatives tend to vote in the primary, while progressives show up in November. Political parties can influence turnout if they crank up the “get out the vote” volunteers.
All politics is local, and each city has its own set of political dynamics that may not translate elsewhere. Also being the frontrunner doesn’t mean being the winner. One misstep can cost a frontrunner their place as voters decide who the winner is.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.