Opinion

Editorial

"Primary sets up November battlesAlmost half of Island County's voters sat out the primary election, so the results are difficult to interpret. Exactly how will all those people who stayed home in September vote in November? We know we can anticipate a large voter turnout due to the presidential race, a number of hot statewide initiatives, and some local battles that promise to be memorable.For Island County Commissioner, District 1, incumbent Mike Shelton did not win an impressive endorsement in the primary election. The two-term Republican received 4,059 votes, only 131 more than the two Democrats who opposed him. To say Shelton's opposition was not formidable is an understatement. Tom Fisher ran a belated write-in campaign, while Bill Rowlands had no official support from his own party. The fact that Shelton barely outpolled the Democrats in his own territory should tell him something about widening his base -- but he received a similar message in the 1996 primary and obviously did little about it. Still, Rowlands' lack of Democratic support should assure Shelton of a third term in November.In District 2, incumbent Republican Mac McDowell won by 500 votes over his intraparty competition, Marv Koorn. But Democrat Lynne Wilcox received 1,146 votes. She will probably pick up a few of Koorn's votes, plus plenty of support from the more liberal South Whidbey where Democrats who can't support Rowlands will likely work extra hard for Wilcox. If there's a shift in political power in Island County, it will have to come from District 2.In 10th District legislative races, only Rep. Kelly Barlean, R-Langley, could rest comfortably after the primary. He won 59 percent of the Position 2 vote, well ahead of Democrat John McCoy's 36 percent. Unless the Democrats send a ton of money McCoy's way, Barlean may have an easy path back to Olympia.For Position 1, the primary results showed what everyone suspected: This race will be a real donnybrook. Incumbent Democrat Dave Anderson of Clinton received 45 percent of the vote, while his Republican challenger, Barry Sehlin of Oak Harbor, produced an impressive 44 percent. The other Republican, Hugh Fleet, garnered 8 percent, so together they beat Anderson. Anderson and Sehlin both have excellent records in the Legislature. The eventual victory may be decided by the presidential race. Will Gore or Bush draw more supporters to the polls?Also with reason to feel discomfort is 10th District Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, who received 52 percent of the vote while political newcomer Norma Smith of Clinton collected an impressive 44 percent. Haugen is used to beating glum-faced conservatives. Smith's conservatism with a smiley face will pose the toughest test yet in Haugen's long political career. A gloves-off campaign for this veteran of many political wars may backfire against Smith, so Haugen's approach will be interesting to watch. In the coming weeks, voters in the 10th District will be treated to some great contests between some outstanding conservative and liberal candidates. If you want to help, just weigh carefully what they say before making a decision. "

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