- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Results from Washington state’s all-mail primary election will continue to trickle in throughout the week, but the races that were decided early on were no surprise: Democratic incumbent Gov. Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant easily advanced through Washington’s primary to the November ballot, as did Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and opponent Republican Chris Vance.

Many other races may take days to determine as the ballots arrive in elections offices throughout the week following Tuesday’s drop-off deadline.

“By Friday, you should pretty much know the top two finishers in all the races,” said David Ammons, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

Counties posted more results late Wednesday afternoon as voters narrowed their choices in dozens of federal, statewide and local races, but more than 300,000 ballots still need to be processed and counted. The latest results still had Inslee with 49 percent of the vote and Bryant at 39 percent. Murray advanced with 53 percent of the vote and Vance had 28 percent.

In a written statement, Inslee said he was “honored to have the support of so many Washingtonians.”

“We are going to keep building a stronger economy and better future for every Washington family,” he wrote.

Bryant’s campaign issued a written statement saying that the fact that Inslee received less than 50 percent of the vote was a “vote of no confidence.”

“These results show people want new leadership,” Bryant wrote.

All 10 of the state’s U.S. House seats are also on the ballot, including Seattle’s solidly Democratic 7th District, which is an open seat after Jim McDermott decided to retire after serving 14, two-year terms in Congress. That race has drawn nine candidates, including Democratic Sen. Pramila Jayapal, Democratic Rep. Brady Walkinshaw and Metropolitan King County Councilman Joe McDermott, no relation to Jim McDermott. Jayapal, with 39 percent of the vote, advanced to the November ballot, and Walkinshaw and Joe McDermott were fighting for the second slot, with each receiving about 21 percent.

Incumbents are running - and were easily advancing to the general ballot - in the rest of the races in the state’s congressional delegation, where Democrats hold six of the seats, and Republicans hold four.

More than 4 million of the state’s registered voters started receiving their ballots in the mail weeks ago for the top-two primary, in which the top two vote-getters advance to the November ballot, regardless of party. As of Wednesday, 28 percent of voters had returned their ballots. The secretary of state’s office has estimated a 41 percent turnout rate.

The open seat for lieutenant governor also has drawn a large group of 11 candidates, including three Democratic state senators. Early returns showed Democratic Sen. Cyrus Habib and Republican Marty McClendon both sitting atop the crowd, with 20 percent each.

Other open statewide races include: auditor, lands commissioner, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction. The treasurer’s race showed two Republicans - Duane Davidson and Michael Waite - leading, with 25 and 24 percent, respectively. If the results hold and they advance to the general election, it will be the first time two candidates of the same party have faced off in a statewide race since Washington launched the top-two primary system in 2008. Same-party opponents have emerged in legislative and congressional races.

The fact that of the nine statewide offices on the ballot, five have open seats - without an incumbent - injects a different dynamic into the election, said Cornell Clayton, a political science professor at Washington State University.

“You have so many more candidates from both parties than you would normally have,” he said. “When you have incumbents, it tends to dampen the competition.”

Voters also weighed in on legislative races, with all 98 state House seats and 26 of the Senate’s 49 seats on the ballot. Republicans currently control the Senate, and Democrats control the House, both by narrow margins.

In 78 of the 124 legislative races on the ballot, there’s no real contest in the primary. Twenty-seven races are unopposed, and in 51 seats, only two candidates are running, all of whom will automatically advance to November.

Because Chief Justice Barbara Madsen faces more than one challenger, hers is the only state Supreme Court race on the primary ballot. Madsen advanced Tuesday night with 64 percent of the vote, as did Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel, with 30 percent of the vote.

Justices Mary Yu and Charlie Wiggins each have just one challenger so they won’t appear on the ballot until the general election.

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