Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 6, 2013

Primary Election Live-Blog

Hello Loyal Readers,

Here I am, unfortunately sober, at the Roxanne Primary night party accompanied by my brother and two lovely women, Allison and Frances, with not another soul in sight. It looks like the place is as empty as the primary ballot this year.

Naturally, as soon as I hit the publish button, Roxanne Murphy walks in the door with a gaggle of Democrats. The party can officially begin.

Roxanne in the house

Roxanne in the house

I asked the star of the show if she had any predictions about tonight’s outcome. “I just don’t know. 46, 47 percent? Who knows? I’m just excited to see how it turns out.”

Aside from the political crowd, it is a quiet night at the Copper Hog, with little activity aside from a few scattered basketball fans watching the storms on the television.

Cathy Lehman, dynamite city councilwoman says that she has no predictions “everyone believes that Roxanne is coming in first. The real question is who will come in second!”

I’m going to put my guesses into immortal print now – I think Roxanne will come in at 46% with the honorable Bob Burr clocking in at 27% and Allen Brown coming in at 26%. For everyone says that doesn’t add up all the way, I say that YOU don’t add up all the way.

Yes. I am unfortunately sober. What of it?



Patrick Stickney, former WWU Dems president cautiously predicts that it will be Roxanne and Bob in the general election. Upcoming political operative Cait Huntsman makes the bold guess that, “Tonight, everyone here will have a good time.”

Future local media mogul Suzanne Blais and Port candidate Renata Kowalczyk have arrived. Renata is auditioning for the TEDxBellingham right after I am so we are both dressed to the nines.

Confession overheard at the party: “I once got really drunk and installed Windows 8 on my computer. Big mistake.”

The tension is palpable. I am resisting the urge to look skyward and shout “Adelsteeeeeeeeeein!” but the poor people just trying to watch the Seattle Storms game would be very confused.

Okay, I gave in and shouted.

Now I’m just hoping that the results come out before I have to go to my interview. It is a race against time! This is why I can’t hang out at the courthouse to do this. I would just start pounding on the windows shouting “count faster!” Because that would help.

John Servais, publisher extraordinaire of Northwest Citizen predicts that it will be Roxanne and Al Brown in the general election.

I have to go to my interview, I’m handing the liveblog off to my capable brother, Devlin.

Results have started to pour in, it’s 50% for Roxanne Murphy with a solid lead and Bob Burr at 25% and Allen at 24% with 18.8% of outstanding ballots.

On the school board race Steven Smith holds more than half the counted votes at 53% with John Blethen at 29% and Hue Beattie trailing at 18%

There are still 600 ballots left to count which leaves room for a Brown/Burr upset, but the school board looks locked in.

For those of you tuning in from Blaine, Charlie Hawkins is holding majority with 54% with Brian Thomasson at 32% and David Gallion at 15%

Michael Lilliquist pulls up next to me and politely caches catches my typo on Steve Smith, Thank you!

Riley Sweeney back. Good news all around. I am thrilled that Bob Burr made it into the general election and even more thrilled that the capable Roxanne Murphy did so well.

I just spoke with Hue Beattie, who is a little disappointed about not winning but ready to “take the fight to Steve Smith!”

Clayton Petree was surprised by Roxanne’s performance. “Holy S#%t! She did really well!”

His opponent, Pinky Vargas, is also here. “I was not a predictor, but I was very hopeful that Roxanne would come out way ahead, and she has. She is going to be a fantastic councilwoman.”

Looking at the leftover votes, Bob Burr is in the lead and will probably stay there. Of the remaining 600 votes waiting to be counted, 300 of them will probably go to Roxanne, leaving 300 votes to be divided between Burr and Brown. Considering that Burr has an almost 100 vote lead, the remaining votes would have to break 2 to 1 in Brown’s favor for him to overtake the honorable Mr. Burr, so I’m predicting that when the last couple of votes are counted tomorrow, Burr will still be on the November ballot.

And with that bit of analysis, I’m headed home. Thanks for listening and if you enjoyed this liveblog, throw us a few bucks here.



  1. Ironic. Devlin corrected his previous typo misspelling, and then in his comment on that correction, he misspells “catches” as “caches” 🙂 Oh well!

    • Reason #24 why I would have made a terrible English major.

  2. Thanks again Riley for letting us hit the sack here while you and your brother got the play (?) by play to us. Hope the interview went well.

    • It went very well – I’m optimistic about my chances.

  3. This year’s primary election is unique. It is the first primary since the Whatcom County Home Rule Charter was passed in 1978 without candidates in any of the three county districts.

    Nine of the 11 primary elections between 1981 and 2001 had two or more districts with County Council races. The year 1993 had 14 candidates in four primary races; the years, 1983, 1985, 1997 and 2001 had three races. The years, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 1999 had two races.

    There were single council races in 1981, 1991, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and no races in 2003, 2011 and this year.

    In 2003, there was a 3rd District port race with five candidates and in 2011 there were countywide races for county executive and sheriff.

    What can account for county residents’ diminishing interest in serving on the County Council?

    • I would guess the mounting cost of running for County Council. In 2001, most candidates raised and spent between $15k-$20k. This year, we will probably crack $60k before the races are over. That’s a big barrier.

    • I think it speaks to a deep, deep polarization, coupled with behind-the-scenes organization and anointing, facilitated to an extent through social networks and party mechanisms. Recall four years ago, four candidates all filed on the same day and launched initially identical websites all run through the same web service registered at the same time. That suggests a lot of collusion and knitting of response that I believe continues.

  4. In 2001, the district 1, 2 and 3 general election candidates spent an average of $29,000. When you add the at-large race the average was $34,000.

    In 2011, the district 1, 2 and 3 general election candidates spent an average of $37,000.

    I don’t understand why this year will see $23,000 increase over 2011.

    • The Gateway Pacific Terminal is bringing in money on both sides from concerned environmentalists and from SSA Marine itself.

    • Well when you adjust for Inflation that $37,000 is $49,000 so we will see if the Gateway Pacific Terminal breaks that.

  5. […] the primary election behind us (read my election night liveblog here) and the long brutal slog of the general election stretching out before us, we can take a breath to […]

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