Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pay Close Attention - This One Should Be Riveting

In grocery store parking lots (and even inside Costco stores), they’re gathering signatures on initiative petitions. In county auditor offices and in Olympia, they’re signing up to run for office.

Election season has begun in Washington. And with a record number of initiatives filed, along with competitive races taking shape for seats in Congress and the Legislature, it should be fun to watch — even if you’re not one of those too-talkative political nerds people avoid at parties.

If ever there was a year to pay close attention to issues and candidates, this is it.

• A record number of initiative petitions (77) were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. Some will spark a spirited debate: putting hard-liquor sales in private hands; legalizing marijuana; enacting an income tax on the wealthy; busting the state’s monopoly on worker’s compensation insurance; and reinstituting a supermajority requirement for the Legislature to raise taxes, to name a few.

To qualify for the November ballot, petition supporters must gather 241,153 valid voter signatures by July 2. Expect to be approached soon, if you haven’t been already.

• Patty Murray’s U.S. Senate seat, which appeared safe a few months ago, is now in play. Republican Dino Rossi’s statewide name recognition, along with an apparent anti-incumbent mood, makes this a race to watch. (We’re assuming both will advance from the Aug. 17 primary. If you disagree, we can discuss it at some social event — in an otherwise empty room.)

Every seat in the state House of Representatives is up for election, as are 25 of the 49 Senate seats. Some races will feature contests in the primary. Under the primary system approved by voters in 2004, the top-two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party preference.

Might that set up an all-Republican or all-Democrat final? Probably not in relatively moderate Snohomish County this year, but, hey, it’s possible.

Three seats on the state Supreme Court are up this year, too. Judicial races are worth paying attention to in June, July and August, because if any candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, they win the seat.

Whether you’re on the right, left, firmly in the center or hovering above the fray, this election will be worth your attention. Who knows? People might even start talking about it at parties.

HeraldNet Editorial

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