Primary election 2020: Who will emerge as Inslee’s challenger?

Voting ends Tuesday in an election without big rallies and fund-raisers and face-to-face debates

The curtain comes down Aug. 4 on a primary election in which constraints of the pandemic compelled candidates to discard many traditional tools of campaigning and contacting voters.

COVID-19 put the kibosh on large in-person events such as fund-raisers and get-out-the-vote rallies. It quashed most door-to-door canvassing and forced candidates to debate each other virtually rather than in person.

In response, candidates looked to bolster their online presence by holding virtual town halls, posting issue-oriented videos and engaging actively on social media.

The top two candidates in each race will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. All statewide executive jobs are on the ballot.

Tuesday will determine who will emerge as the opponent to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. There are 35 challengers to the two-term governor, who is expected to win the primary.

A half dozen Republicans have been visibly campaigning the most: initiative promoter Tim Eyman of Bellevue, Republic police Chief Loren Culp, former Bothell mayor Joshua Freed, Yakima physician Dr. Raul Garcia, Auburn state Sen. Phil Fortunato and Seattle businessman Anton Sakharov.

Although Eyman is the most prolific e-mailer in the bunch, Freed and Culp are pulling in the most money. Freed reported raising $1.5 million — he’s provided about 45% of the sum — and Culp was at nearly $1.1 million, as of July 30, according to campaign finance records.

Another closely watched contest is for lieutenant governor. The job is coming open as Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib is retiring.

The 11-person field includes two prominent Democrats, state Sen. Marko Liias of Lynnwood and Congressman Denny Heck of Olympia. Among Republicans, Ann Davison Sattler, who ran for Seattle City Council in 2019, has raised the most money. Republicans Marty McClendon, who lost to Habib in 2016, and Joseph Brumbles, who lost to Heck in a congressional race in 2018, are among the other competitors.

Ballots returned by mail do not require a stamp but must be postmarked no later than Aug. 4 to count.

They also can be placed in one of the county’s designated drop boxes which will be open around the clock until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

It is not too late to participate. State law allows a person to register to vote, get a ballot and cast it the same day. There are three locations where this can be done in person from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.