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With the lid lifted on NW Washington’s election season, a glimpse at the fixin’s

Few surprises, but intriguing local matchups in looming summer of campaigns

Voters line up to drop ballots off on Primary Election night.
Voters drop off ballots in Bellingham in August 2022. The coming campaign season for the 2024 election came into sharper focus this week. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Ron Judd Executive Editor

This election reporting is provided free to all readers as a public service by the local ownership of Cascadia Daily News. Thanks for supporting truly local news by donating to CDN or subscribing here.

The door slammed shut last Friday evening on filing for seats in the upcoming primary and general elections, producing few surprises — but some intriguing matchups.

The marquee item in the November general election, of course, is The Big Ticket — the presidential contest, which will suck up all available oxygen from regional and national media in the coming months.

Here in the Upper Left, we hope to provide some degree of respite from that, save for the occasional national political column or cartoon. But it’s the undeniable elephant in the electoral room.

Does that make for a boring local election? Let’s hope not. With few city, county or school district seats up for election, local contests will provide for a tidy set of races for state and national offices:

  • In the 42nd District, spanning most of northern Whatcom County, from Point Roberts all the way east to Northcentral Washington, Rep. Alicia Rule will face a challenge for her House seat in the Aug. 6 primary, as will incumbent Rep. Joe Timmons.
  • In the neighboring 40th, which encompasses South Bellingham, western Skagit County and all of the San Juan Islands, incumbent Democratic Sen. Liz Lovelett of Anacortes has drawn a challenger, Republican Charles Carrell. The two House positions, held by incumbent Democrats Debra Lekanoff and Alex Ramel, are unopposed.
  • To serve a growing regional audience, CDN will expand election coverage in Skagit County this summer and fall, covering state Senate and House races in the sprawling 39th District, which encompasses most of Skagit and Snohomish counties, from Baker Lake to south Everett and from Interstate 5 east to Chelan County. Seats there held by Sen. Keith Wagoner of Sedro-Woolley, the GOP Whip, and Rep. Sam Low of Lake Stevens, both Republicans, have drawn multiple challengers.
  • State races, including an interesting contest for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Commissioner of Public Lands, are also firmly on CDN’s radar, as of course, is the governor’s race likely pitting Attorney General Bob Ferguson against former Congressman Dave Reichert — assuming the latter doesn’t get run out of his own GOP social club before August. We’ll be watching all three.
  • The federal seats offer a chance to hold longtime incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen’s feet to the local fires again, with the backdrop of a left-side challenge from labor candidate Jason Call, whose campaign notably fizzled in a prior attempt. Larsen also faces a pair of little-known GOP challengers. Also up for grabs is the Senate seat long occupied by Sen. Maria Cantwell, who as usual, has drawn a list of challengers — none appearing seriously financed nor prominent.
  • A bevy of interesting state and local initiatives, as well as some returning rural school and fire district bond measures, round out the slate. See a full list of candidate filings compiled by CDN last week here.

CDN takes its role in providing probing, comprehensive election coverage extremely seriously. We were founded as a news organization nearly three years ago with a mission of helping preserve representative democracy — under threat then, and still. Key to preserving that national heritage, we believe, is an informed electorate.

In that spirit, we reach out to readers again this election season with two pleas for assistance:

Our election coverage is guided by our Citizens Agenda model, recognized in journalism circles for outstanding public service. We need answers to the question: What issues would you like candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes? Send those to us at newstips@cascadiadaily.com with the subject line, “Citizens Agenda.” Thanks to those of you who already have responded, but we need more, more, ideas.

These questions will be submitted en masse in July back to our entire readership, which will be asked to vote on those they considered to be priorities. Those selected questions will be put to candidates, in person and in writing, and used to guide our election coverage and later, some endorsements by CDN’s Editorial Board.

Guest writers sought

Secondly, a new feature which, as editor of the Opinion section, I’m excited about: A series of special guest commentaries planned for this summer on the theme, “What’s at Stake” in the national election.

We’re seeking a half dozen or more local guest writers who are passionate, articulate and experienced in a given topic, and want to lay out, preferably in 1,000 words or less, how that cause/issue/aspect of American civic life might be in play with the results of the national election.

We’re wide open to subjects: Economy; environment; civil, tribal and reproductive rights; public safety; immigration; health care; federalism; trade; climate; water rights; equity; church/state issues — you name it.

We’d rather hear from non-politicians who have their own expertise in a subject, preferably through personal life experience. Does that sound like you, or someone you play pickleball with? Reach out at my email address below, or send a pitch and contact info to our guest commentary address: guestcolumns@cascadiadaily.com.

(By the way: We’re also open to quiet nominations of someone else who might not be bold enough to put themselves forward for this; we are pretty good at the cajoling part.)

Thanks in advance for help in those two areas. Our entire staff engages in our election coverage and we see public involvement as critical to a successful coverage effort.

Campaign stories will soon begin to work their way into CDN coverage — all of which is free, outside our paywall. Look to us to tell you who’s running, from what direction — and who is paying the freight. The biggest chunks will arrive July 19, with our Primary Election Guide, and Oct. 18, with our comprehensive Voter Guide for the general election.

See you in line at a ballot dropbox before you know it. Primary ballots are mailed in mid-July.


Ron Judd's column appears weekly; ronjudd@cascadiadaily.com; @roncjudd.

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