Today is primary day in Washington and Wyoming. Both states’ races include important statewide elections.
[Ed. note: Jon will be liveblogging tonight’s results on the Elections page. Polls close in Wyoming at 9pm EDT.]
Governor – Popular Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal has decided not to run for re-election creating a excellent pick up opportunity for the Republican Party. Most observers expect the Republicans to win the governor’s race in this very red state, which is why the Republican primary has been crowded with several viable candidates. A Mason-Dixon poll for Casper Star-Tribune found in the Republican primary State Auditor Rita Meyer had the lead at 27% among those polled. Close behind her is Matt Mead with 24%, House Speaker Colin Simpson at 17%, and Ron Micheli with 12%.
On the Democratic side, the campaign has been less intense. The race is between former Democratic Party chair Leslie Peterson and Pete Gosar. The Mason-Dixon poll found Peterson leading Grosar, 30% to 22%, but with a huge level of undecided. Neither Democratic candidate is considered to be a top recruit. The only poll of the general election I can find is a Rasmussen poll from June; although aged, it shows all potential Republicans with a big lead over the potential Democrats.
A note on Washington’s “top two primary”: Unlike most states, Washington has recently stopped using a partisan primary, in which political parties select their nominees for the general. Washington State now uses the “top two primary” system in which all candidates, regardless of party, compete. The two candidates that earn the most votes in the primary become the only two candidates on the general election ballot. In theory, the general election could be a fight between two Democrats or two Republicans or even two independents if any of these combinations are the two top vote-getters tonight.
Senate – The big race is the primary for U.S. Senate. Recent polling indicates that incumbent Democrat Patty Murray and Republican Dino Rossi are expected to be the winners of their respective partys’ nominations. Having run twice unsuccessfully for statewide office, Rossi is well known in the state and the Republican establishment’s choice. There are two other more conservative Republicans, Clint Didier and Paul Akers, hoping to come in second so they can make it to the general but according to polls they are trailing Rossi by double-digits.
3rd District – This swing district is represented by Democrat Brian Baird who decided to not run for re-election this year, making this one of the most hotly contested races this November. There are three serious candidates for the two top slots: Democrat Denny Heck, Republican Jaime Herrera, and Republican David Castillo. Former state legislator Denny Heck is the best financed person in the primary and as the only serious Democratic candidate he is expect to easily secure one of the top two slots. Herrera is better financed and is the Republican Party establishment favorite among the two Republicans. David Castillo is trying to run to the right of Herrera and has the backing of Tea Party sponsor FreedomWorks.