WASHINGTON STATE—Voters in Eastern Washington on Tuesday advanced candidates bidding for three legislative seats to the November ballot.
In a key contest in the 16th District, which includes the cities of Pasco and Walla Walla, incumbent Democratic Rep. Laura Grant won the Tuesday primary in that race with more than 46 percent of the vote in early returns. Also advanced to the Nov. 3 election was Republican Terry Nealey, a former Columbia County prosecutor, who captured nearly 38 percent.
Republican Kevin Young, a farmer and state Transportation Department employee, received just 10 percent of the vote, and prison guard David Roberts, running as a "Reagan Independent," received 6 percent.
Under the state's primary system, the two top finishers in each primary race face off in November general elections.
Grant, an elementary school teacher from Walla Walla, is trying to retain her seat as the Legislature's only Eastern Washington Democrat from outside the Spokane area. Grant was appointed earlier this year after the death of her father, Bill Grant, who held the seat for more than 20 years.
In the 15th District, which includes Sunnyside and Goldendale, voters advanced Republican Rep. David Taylor of Moxee after early returns show him winning the primary election in that race with more than 65 percent of the vote in early returns.
Taylor was appointed to fill the seat of Dan Newhouse, who was appointed Gov. Chris Gregoire's agriculture director earlier this year.
Still undecided was the second advancement in that race. Democrat John Gotts had nearly 19 percent of the vote even though he has abandoned his bid to work on business ventures in California. Democrat Donicio Marichalar, a consultant and former state social worker, had more than 16 percent of the vote under early returns.
Also undecided Tuesday night was the race in the 9th District, which includes Pullman and Cheney. The open contest for that race is for the unexpired term of the late Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, who died in December of colon cancer. Appointed replacement Rep. Don Cox, R-Colfax, had previously retired from the Legislature and is not running to keep the seat.
Four Republicans are in the running: Susan Fagan, a former aide to three U.S. senators from Idaho and public affairs director for a Pullman manufacturer; Pat Hailey, a farmer-rancher and school board member who is the widow of Steve Hailey; TV news reporter and school board member Darin Watkins; and farmer and former school board member Art Swannack. The lone Democrat in the race is business owner Glen Stockwell.
Early returns showed Fagan winning with nearly 29 percent of the vote, followed closely by Hailey, who had 25.6 percent. Close behind Hailey was Stockwell, with 25.2 percent. Swannack had 12 percent of the vote, and Watkins had just 8 percent.