Guest opinion: Plenty of 2020 races, but little suspense

Nine of the most powerful political jobs in Washington will be filled by voters in 2020.

We’re talking governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and executive seats overseeing the state’s public schools, treasury, insurance industry, public lands, and government agency ledgers.

Yet next year is shaping up to be one of the least competitive election cycles for these jobs in awhile. To be frank, it could be boring.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee put a stopper in the excitement bottle for Democrats when he decided he wanted a third term.

That forced Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to shelve their aspirations to succeed Inslee and settle for re-election. A bunch of other Democrats with designs on replacing those two ladder-climbers have had to box up their ambitions. This ensures no family feuds in the primary, a scenario leaders of the state Democratic Party very much wanted to avoid.

The Grand Old Party is a different story. Washington has a Republican secretary of state and treasurer. But the GOP lacks candidates right now with a real potential to capture any of the other executive seats. President Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the most vote-rich region of the state hurts the party’s brand and makes it hard to recruit.

With seven months to go before candidates must file and a year before ballots are cast here’s how those nine races look.

Candidates for governor

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is looking to become the first three-term governor since Republican Dan Evans accomplished the feat a half-century ago. Four Republicans most voters haven’t heard of — Auburn state Sen. Phil Fortunato, Republic police Chief Loren Culp, former Bothell mayor Joshua Freed and Seattle businessman Anton Sakharov — are lining up to take him on.

Lt. Governor

Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib was the top vote-getter in an 11-person primary in 2016, a field which included two Democratic state senators. He won the general election with 54.4 percent. Right now, only Republican Joseph Brumbles, who lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Denny Heck in 2018, is challenging the incumbent.

Attorney General

Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson looks so unbeatable for a third term that Republicans may not field an opponent. They didn’t in 2016. Ferguson had raised $1.7 million before a campaign event Wednesday in Snohomish. That’s $300,000 more than his entire total last time. Brett Rogers of Lake Stevens, an independent, is the only announced foe for 2020.

Secretary of State

Republican Kim Wyman is seeking a third term. No opponent has surfaced thus far. Four years ago was a different story. Wyman and Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski waged one of the year’s fiercest ballot duels. Wyman got nearly 55 percent. Podlodowski now leads the state Democratic Party which means she’s supposed to recruit a challenger.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Chris Reykdal is running again. He barely won in 2016. He finished second in a nine-person primary and came out on top by a slim 1 percent in the general election. So far no one has stepped forward to take him on for this nonpartisan gig.

Democratic Commissioner of Public Lands

Hilary Franz is seeking a second term though, like Ferguson, she’d probably rather be competing for governor. She has no opponent yet which leaves her free to build her cache, now around $521,000, for her future political plans.

Auditor

Democrat Pat McCarthy wants a second term. She’s settled things down since the tumultuous tenure of her disgraced Democratic predecessor, Troy Kelley. Enough so that no challenger has emerged yet.

Treasurer

Republican Duane Davidson wants a second term too. But he will have to fight for it as Democrats are targeting this seat. State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way, is running and has raised $137,000 compared to Davidson’s total of $25,000. At the moment, this is the most competitive race for any executive office.

Insurance Commissioner

Democratic Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is running again. He’s the only insurance commissioner Washington has had this century. Libertarian Anthony Welti of Tulalip is the only opponent right now. And as of this week, Welti had raised $7,000 more than Kreidler.

Contact The Herald (Everett) columnist Jerry Cornfield at 360-352-8623, jcornfield@herald net.com or on Twitter, @dospueblos.

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