Kudos to South Sound voters who are dutifully brooding over their ballots and a voters pamphlet the size of a small phone book.
To some of them, the News Tribune’s primary election endorsement practice might smack of arrogance or indecisiveness. If voters must buckle down and choose just one candidate for each office, why does the editorial board extend itself the privilege of choosing two?
The short answer is that we enjoy drawing out some suspense until November. The longer answer is that we treat the primary the same way the state does under its 12-year-old top-two primary system: Cull the field to a pair of candidates, typically one person from each major political party.
In some cases, however, we throw out the playbook and endorse just one candidate, or two from the same party, as you can see below.
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You’ll notice we didn’t make endorsements in every primary contest. Some races have absurdly crowded fields and/or two clear frontrunners heading to the November general election; the pairings for governor, secretary of state, Congress and U.S. Senate will shake out in a predictable way.
We also skipped the first round of voting for a handful of state technocrat-type posts — treasurer, insurance and public lands commissioners.
This fall, you’ll see our first takes on those offices, as well as several others that drew only two candidates and thus will go directly to the November ballot.
Here’s a roundup of who we’d like to advance past the Aug. 2 primary in 16 state and local races, based on candidate interviews and other research. They are condensed from our previously published full-length endorsements:
Pierce County executive: The honor of serving as the county government figurehead and CEO for the next four years attracted four candidates. Sen. Bruce Dammeier emerges as the best of three Republican choices in what has turned into a savage primary fight. County Councilman Rick Talbert has stayed above the fray so far as the only Democrat in the group.
Pierce County Council, District 2: In this three-person primary to represent the north-central part of the county, we broke form and went with only one candidate, Democrat Carolyn Edmonds. The sole Republican, Sen. Pam Roach, wasn’t endorsed because her Senate term isn’t up until 2019 and she hasn’t made a firm pledge to resign.
Pierce County Council, District 6: County Council chairman Doug Richardson, the only Republican running for the south county seat, makes a good case to be elected, along with fellow Lakewood resident Linda Farmer.
Pierce County Superior Court: Two retiring judges leave open benches. For Position 8, we endorse Lakewood Municipal Court Judge and former deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn along with Tacoma attorney and former judicial assistant Dwayne Christopher. For Position 17, we like Pierce County Court Commissioner Karena Kirkendoll and long-time local attorney Tom Quinlan.
Legislative District 2: Out on the southern frontiers of Pierce County, Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville rises above the two Democratic challengers and grabs our sole endorsement to keep her Senate seat. The same is true of Republican Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm in House Position 2.
Legislative District 26: On the peninsula, incumbent Republican Rep. Jesse Young remains a credible candidate, while former Democratic Rep. Larry Seaquist mounts a comeback campaign centered on his education expertise. Both men live in Gig Harbor.
Legislative District 27: In a safe Democratic district representing urban Tacoma, Sen. Jeannie Darneille at least has a nominal challenger in Republican small business owner Greg Taylor.
Legislative District 28: Incumbent Republican Rep. Dick Muri of Steilacoom and Democratic challenger Mari Leavitt of University Place would make a formidable general election pairing for House Position 1, while a rematch between Democratic Rep. Christine Kilduff of University Place and Republican Paul Wagemann of Lakewood makes sense for House Position 2.
Legislative District 29: For the right to represent South Tacoma and the unincorporated Parkland-Spanaway area, Democratic Rep. David Sawyer and Republican Rick Thomas should advance.
Legislative District 31: We give Enumclaw City Councilman Morgan Irwin a slight edge among a strong Republican field vying for the open Position 2 House seat in the northern outskirts of the county, while career firefighter Lane Walthers is a solid middle-of-the-road Democrat.
State superintendent of public instruction: Of the nine people who filed for the open nonpartisan K-12 school chief job, veteran school administrator Erin Jones and state Rep. Chris Reykdahl excel.
State auditor: Five people are running to restore a respectable head to this decapitated watchdog office. Sen. Mark Miloscia should advance as the only Republican choice, while term-limited Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy is the most qualified Democrat.
State lieutenant governor: The open position, which doubles as ceremonial Senate president and trade ambassador, attracted a whopping 11 candidates. We broke form by choosing two Democrats in the primary. Both are experienced, sitting senators: Karen Fraser and Steve Hobbs.