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Fall Race Lineup: Gregoire/Rossi; Murray/Nethercutt

Preliminary primary election results given

Although the turnout was comparatively low -- the Klickitat County Auditor's Office pegged it at about 25 percent -- the voters across the state who did turn out on Sept. 14 made their choices clear in the new "Montana-style" primary voting process.

This year's rules called for voters to select one political party -- Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian -- to cast votes for.

When the polls closed and the votes were counted, there were no big surprises.

In unofficial and incomplete results in the key U.S. Senate contest, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray swamped her competition in a three-way nominating battle. In statewide Democratic Party returns, Murray captured 93 percent of the vote, with her challengers Said and Hanson getting one percent and six percent respectively.

On the Republican side, U.S. George Nethercutt Jr. took 79 percent of the vote in a six-man field, leading his strongest challenger, Reed Davis, who was second with seven percent of the GOP vote.

Nethercutt will face off against Murray, who has served in the U.S. Senate for the past 12 years, in the Nov. 2 general election.

In the governor's race, GOP candidate Dino Rossi captured the Republican nomination for the governor's office in a three-way battle.

Unofficially, Rossi had 79 percent of the primary vote; John Aiken had nine percent; and Bill Meyer had 12 percent.

On the Democratic ballot for governor, Attorney General Christine Gregoire took 72 percent of the votes; while Ron Sims finished in second place with 23 percent and four other contenders split the rest.

On the Libertarian Party ballot, Ruth Bennett edged fellow Libertarian Michael Nelson by a 57-43 percent margin.

Bennett advances to the Nov. 2 ballot and will compete against Gregoire and Rossi for the right to move into the governor's mansion in Olympia, replacing the outgoing Gov. Gary Locke, a Democrat who decided not to seek a third four-year term.

In the non-partisan race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, Judith Billings was leading incumbent Superintendent Teresa (Terry) Bergeson, by 36 percent to 34 percent in a six-person race.

There were no local races that were contested. However, in the District 1 seat for the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners, incumbent Republican Don Struck finished with 336 votes (unofficial) in the uncontested primary. On the Democratic side, Pat Arnold, had 325 votes.

Struck and Arnold will go head-to-head on Nov. 2.

Absentee ballots postmarked by Sept. 14 will be accepted until Sept. 23, and all primary election results are unofficial until final certification on Sept. 24.

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