Democrat Jay Inslee jumped to an early lead over Republican Rob McKenna as the first vote counts were reported in Tuesday’s primary election for Washington governor.
Both candidates easily outpaced seven lesser-known contenders, setting up a long-anticipated November general election matchup. In early returns, Inslee had about 47 percent of the vote compared to McKenna’s 43 percent. Inslee’s lead was propelled by a very strong showing in King County, where he was taking 58% of the vote in early returns.
Democrat Rob Hill placed third in early returns.
McKenna, the two-term state attorney general, is hoping to break a 32-year GOP losing streak in the race for governor – the longest gubernatorial losing streak in the nation for Republicans. The last Republican to win a governor’s race here was John Spellman in 1980.
Inslee, who served more than a decade as a congressman from Bainbridge Island, is counting on voters in the blue-leaning state sticking with Democrats. He resigned his 1st District seat in March to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign.
The two men had long been expected to advance in Tuesday’s primary, and their general election contest is rated as one of the hottest in the country by the national parties.