Washington's "top-two" primary system has created no shortage of interesting results during its relatively short time in existence. Evidence of this can be found in a number of places on the general election ballot, including this year in the typically mundane state treasurer race - where incumbent Democrat Jim McIntire will face off against little-known Republican Sharon Hanek.
Thanks to Washington's top-two primary system, Hanek, a Bonney Lake mom and experienced CPA whose list of accomplishments includes garnering tea party adoration and once testifying against a sex education bill in the state Legislature, launched a last-minute write-in campaign that was successful enough to get her name on the November ballot, transforming the previously uncontested race for McIntire into, well, at least something of a contest.
Thanks to Washington's top-two primary system, Hanek, a Bonney Lake mom and experienced CPA whose list of accomplishments includes garnering tea party adoration and once testifying against a sex education bill in the state Legislature, launched a last-minute write-in campaign that was successful enough to get her name on the November ballot. The move transformed the previously uncontested race for McIntire into, well, at least something of a contest.
Considering write-in candidates in Washington need only pay the $1,169.50 filing fee, garner a total of 1 percent of the total primary votes cast in their race, and finish in the top two, the fact Hanek was able to do all of the above doesn't constitute a jaw-dropping feat, but it does make things just a wee-bit more interesting come November. The social conservative write-in candidate apparently saw the opportunity and took it, walking away with roughly 3.4 percent of the primary votes cast for state treasurer - more than enough to advance to November.
Along with touting a UW education and her CPA, tax and business experience, Hanek points to her volunteer work, education and PTA cred, and time served as treasurer of organizations like the Pierce County Republicans as proof of her capabilities and integrity.
Hanek's campaign website states: "Sharon has spent the past decade researching and analyzing bills, working with legislators, and testifying on issues related to budget, taxes, transportation and education. Recently she combined her interest in politics, financial background, and research skills to form a public policy research company. Her focus is to reach out to citizens across Washington State and help them become politically active citizens." As Brad Shannon of The News Tribune in Tacoma noted Tuesday
As Brad Shannon of The News Tribune in Tacoma noted Tuesday, because it's a statewide race, Hanek advancing to the general election as a write-in candidate is a result state election officials "don't remember seeing for at least three decades for a statewide political campaign."
While results like Hanek's may be new territory for a statewide contest, the Trib's story notes she's one of nine candidates "for legislative, judicial, or statewide office that qualified this year in the Aug. 7 primary to move on to the Nov. 6 election." That number includes Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant, who is facing off against House Speaker Frank Chopp in the 43rd District.
Hanek tells the Trib her candidacy is legitimate, saying "I'm not doing this to make a statement and walk away."
For his part, McIntire - at least when pressed by the media - is also taking the challenge seriously, telling the Trib, "The reality is there have been people that have run campaigns like this for county treasurer and got elected. I need to consider it a race."