Dems, incumbents poll well; tax issues split

The words “cautious optimism” seems to spring to the minds of two political candidates seeking full-time work in Washington D.C.

At the same time, an incumbent Island County commissioner seems to be on his way toward running for his seat in the general election one more time, while Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard stays on course to fulfill her goal of being elected to the Washington Legislature.

But among these primary races and several other ballot issues put to voters this Tuesday, the tightest contest is between two Republican frontrunners in the race for U.S. Congress. Nearly 350 votes separate Republican candidate frontrunner and Bellingham resident Larry Klepinger from Suzanne Sinclair, the Island County auditor, in the unofficial vote totals released Thursday evening from Tuesday’s primary election.

Klepinger leads the interparty race with 11,380 votes, but was not making any predictions after the first tallies came in late this week.

“I haven’t accepted victory yet,” Klepinger said. “I think we’re going right down to the wire (and) I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”

Island County has been kindest to Sinclair, who received 2,218 votes in the county to Klepinger’s 408

The third Republican challenger, Glenn Coggeshell has 5,886 votes.

Whoever wins faced Democratic Incumbent Rick Larsen, the party’s lone candidate in the Nov. 2 general election. Larsen, with 45,196 votes so far, has received more than four times the individual vote totals of Klepinger and Sinclair. Libertarian candidate Bruce Guthrie, who garnered 1,191 votes at latest count, will also participate in the general election.

In the race for Island County Commissioner, District 1, Mike Shelton, an incumbent Republican leads Republican challenger Reece Rose 1166 votes to 558.

“It looks pretty darn good,” Shelton said this week. “I’m very pleased.”

Rose said Thursday evening that because results from the Island County elections are consistent, she is conceding the election to Shelton.

In the 10th District state race, Democratic candidate Nancy Conard leads fellow Democrat challenger Gina Bull 4,974 votes to 2,759.

“I’m very pleased and excited to go on for the rest of the race,” Conard said as the votes were tallied this week.

The winner will face Republican candidate Chris Strow, who garnered an uncontested 2,625 votes, and Libertarian candidate Tom Bronkema, who has 61 votes.

Some Island County residents also voted on levy proposition for Central Whidbey Fire District. The levy, which has 951 “yes” votes to 370 “no” votes for a 72 percent approval rate, would authorize an increase in the district’s tax levy rate from $1.19 to $1.29 per $1,000 of assessed land value. The district stretches from near Coupeville to north of Freeland.

Tuesday’s primary was also the introduction of the new “Montana-style” primary. The new primary required voters to declare themselves a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian before voting and only vote for candidates in that party. Vote totals will be certified by county canvassing boards on Sept. 24 and by Secretary of State Sam Reed on Oct. 5.

Early numbers seem to indicate few registered Island County voters tried it out the new primary. Of the 42,066 registered voters, 10,280, or about 25 percent voted in the primary as of Thursday afternoon.

Among the 10280 voters, 4,201 or 40 percent were declared Republicans while 5486 or 53 percent were Democrat. Eighty three voters were Libertarian and 510 were non-partisan, which only allowed them to vote for levys and races where candidates are not in a political party, such as the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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