SEATTLE (AP) — The office of the Washington lieutenant governor is obscure enough that when its current occupant decamped to California to train as a Jesuit priest, the public didn’t notice.
It’s also prominent enough that the two men running to replace him believe they can use it as a platform to advance health care and higher education, protect the vulnerable, aid small business, and promote jobs and clean energy.
The candidates — both Democrats — are state Sen. Marko Liias, 39, the majority floor leader in the Senate, and retiring U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, 68, whose career in politics and public service has spanned more than four decades, including serving as a state lawmaker, chief of staff to former Gov. Booth Gardner, and co-founder and chief executive of TVW, the state’s public-affairs television station.
They advanced to the ballot after placing first and second in an 11-candidate field in Washington’s top-two primary. Heck took 25% of the vote to Liias’ 18.5%. Overall, the Democrats in the primary took nearly 55% of the vote to the Republicans’ 43%; former Bothell Mayor Josh Freed, an also-ran Republican in the governor’s primary, is mounting a write-in campaign for lieutenant governor.
The lieutenant governor serves as president of the state Senate, participates on several committees and is next in line should the governor leave office — a real possibility, considering Gov. Jay Inslee could wind up serving as Interior secretary or head of the Environmental Protection Agency in a Joe Biden administration.
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