Ventrella mulls limited campaign re-boot, Pierce County exec strong in state Auditor race

McCarthy Staff photographer

Challenger Tony Ventrella says he’ll do some limited campaigning now that he’s nabbed a spot in the 8th Congressional District general election, despite dropping out from the primary in early July.

The Democrat said he folded his campaign because it lacked money to continue. But Ventrella’s name still showed up on the primary ballot because he dropped out too late for it to be taken off, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Voters ignored Ventrella’s pleas to switch their support to the other Democrats in the race: Alida Skold and Santiago Ramos.

Ventrella is a former sportscaster who worked with KING-TV and was recently a digital content producer for the Seattle Seahawks. He’s up against incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican in the district that includes Chelan and Kittitas counties, plus parts of King, Pierce and Douglas counties. Reichert had a strong lead over Ventrella in vote counts.

Ventrella told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson he won’t be knocking on doors or asking for money for the November contest. Instead, he said voters should donate to charity organizations.

A focal point of Ventrella’s campaign was getting money out of politics. He said in July he didn’t accept money from special interest groups or political action committees during his run for office.

He spent time reaching out for small contributions from people, instead.

“It was kind of a pie-in-the-sky approach to politics, which, frankly in today’s world, does not work,” Ventrella said in July. “But, I thought I’d give it a shot and make a statement.”

South Sound rules auditor’s race

The replacement for embattled state auditor Troy Kelley, a Democrat from Tacoma, will come from the South Sound, too.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Republican state Sen. Mark Miloscia from Federal Way ousted Seattle Democrat Jeff Sprung and others in Tuesday’s top-two primary election.

McCarthy and Miloscia will square off in November’s general election.

Both bring experience in public office to the race.

McCarthy spent time running elections as the Pierce County Auditor before she was elected as Pierce County’s executive in 2008. She’s also been on the Tacoma School Board and served as the chairwoman of Sound Transit.

Miloscia is the chairman of the Senate’s Accountability and Reform Committee and has spent 16 years in the Legislature. He ran unsuccessfully for auditor in 2012, when he lost in the primary to Kelley and Republican James Watkins.

Miloscia placed first in Tuesday’s primary.

In the general election race, Miloscia said his experience doing audits for the national Baldridge Performance Excellence Program sets him apart from McCarthy. Auditors for the group do pro-bono evaluations of public and private institutions.

“The voters are going to have somebody who actually knows the audit business and somebody who doesn’t,” he said.

McCarthy said her executive experience managing an enormous county is something not on Miloscia’s resume, and called Miloscia’s critique a “red herring.”

“I don’t think you need to be an auditor or a (certified public accountant) to be a good leader of an organization that does more than just performance audits,” she said.

A federal grand jury indicted Kelley with evading taxes and stealing $3 million from consumers while at his former business. No verdict was returned by a jury on 14 felony charges. He was also found not guilty of lying under oath.

Treasurer probably will be Republican

No Republican has been state Treasurer in Washington since Charles R. Maybury was elected by about 1 percent in 1952.

That’s likely to change.

Three Democrats appeared to split liberal support in Tuesday’s primary, allowing Republicans Duane Davidson and Michael Waite to get enough votes to advance to November’s general election.

“I knew there was three Democrats in the race but I never thought two Republicans (winning) would be a possibility,” Davidson said Wednesday.

Davidson is in his fourth four year term as the Benton County treasurer.

Waite is a finance professional from the Seattle area who originally came to the U.S. from Australia as a tennis professional. He has raised significantly more money and has support from much of the current Republican establishment in the Legislature, including state Sens. John Braun, Joe Fain and Andy Hill.

Davidson has been endorsed by numerous county treasurers and county auditors as well as Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

Davidson came in first in early ballot returns Tuesday despite raising the least amount of money in the race, according to the latest numbers from the Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission. The PDC tracks campaign spending in the state.

The candidates now will have to focus on attracting Democrat votes along with turning out their supporters from their own party.

Davidson said he could be the “consensus candidate” and is courting Democrats who want the position to be “almost nonpartisan in some ways.”

Waite said all voters are tired of professional politicians and want value for their tax dollars in a way only he can deliver with considering his private sector experience.

Waite is a vice president at the investment firm Bentall Kennedy and was previously at Cascade Investment, the private investment firm of Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

New ballots don’t change two close legislative races

New ballot results released on Wednesday didn’t change the leaders in two neck-and-neck primary races in the South Sound with big implications for control of the Legislature.

Democrat Mike Pellicciotti held a small lead over incumbent Republican Rep. Linda Kochmar, R-Federal Way. And incumbent Rep. Teri Hickel, a Republican from Federal Way, was just behind Democratic challenger Kristine Reeves.

Both races are in the 30th Legislative District in the Federal Way area.

Elections officials take days to count every vote in the state’s mail-in election, so winners of races as close as the 30th District can change.

Democrats currently have a 50-48 majority in the House, while Republicans have a 26-23 majority in the Senate. Both are hoping to claim majorities in each chamber come November.

Victories by Reeves and Pellicciotti in the general election might let Democrats keep the House.

Down to the wire in Pierce County judicial races

Dwayne Christopher is beating Jack Hill for the second spot in the race for Pierce County Superior Court seat 8. Christopher will face Grant Blinn in the general election for Judge Brian Tollefson’s seat.

Christopher, of Tacoma, is a lawyer who used to be Tollefson’s judicial assistant. Blinn, of University Place, is a municipal judge for the cities of Lakewood, University Place, Steilacoom and DuPont.

Tom Quinlan continues to hold a narrow lead over David Ladenburg for the Superior Court seat 17. The winner will face Karena Kirkendoll in the general election to replace retiring Judge Ronald Culpepper.

Kirkendoll, of Tacoma, is a Pierce County Superior Court commissioner. Quinlan, from the Key Peninsula, is a civil trial attorney who has worked as a pro tem commissioner for the Superior Court and area municipal courts.

Staff writer Kenny Ocker contributed to this report.

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein