Twenty-eight candidates are running in the top-two primary for governor of Washington – Semi Bird (R), Bob Ferguson (D), Mark Mullet (D), and Dave Reichert (R) lead in media coverage and endorsements

Twenty-eight candidates are running in the top-two primary for governor of WashingtonSemi Bird (R), Bob Ferguson(D), Mark Mullet (D), and Dave Reichert (R) have received the most media attention and endorsements. The primary is Aug. 6, 2024. The top-two finishers will advance to the general election on Nov. 5, 2024.

Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) is not running for re-election.

Political commentators have identified two themes in the primary. The first is intra-party, with Ferguson, the state attorney general, billed as the Democratic establishment candidate and Mullet, a state senator, as the “common sense alternative who can attract a winning bloc of moderate and independent voters.”

Inslee endorsed Ferguson. In 2020, Inslee had endorsed Ingrid Anderson (D), Mullet’s opponent in his last senatorial race. Mullet said Inslee and the Democratic majority had overreached on taxes. He also voted against a Democratic-led payroll tax for long-term care and a capital gains tax.

For the Republicans, divisions were present during the state Republican Party convention in April 2024. Party leaders initially announced they would not endorse a candidate for governor. Bird’s supporters protested the move, and delegates overturned the initial decision not to endorse a candidate. Reichert withdrew his name from consideration, and the state party endorsed Bird.

According to Politico, Reichert, former representative of Washington’s 8th Congressional District, was ranked as one of the most bipartisan members during his time in the U.S. House, and at times voted opposite his party, for example, voting to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military and voting against repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Running to the right of Reichert is Bird. Bird was elected to the Richland School District school board in 2021 as part of a conservative slate of candidates who campaigned against mask mandates, COVID vaccines, and alleged teaching of critical race theory. Voters recalled Bird and two others from the school board in 2023. Click here to learn more.

On an inter-party level, Democrats have claimed Reichert would limit access to abortion in Washington. Reichert said he would uphold the state’s abortion law. Democrats have also tried to link Reichert with former President Donald Trump(R). Reichert has not publicly stated whether he would endorse or vote for Trump.

Both Reichert and Bird position themselves opposite of Democrats. They have emphasized “a shift away from tax increases and climate regulations” and called for “get-tough approaches on homeless encampments, drugs and crime.”

A Republican last won election as Washington’s governor in 1980. As of June 18, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rated the general election Lean Democratic, while Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball rated it Likely Democratic.

Twenty-four other candidates are also running in the primary.

This is one of 11 gubernatorial elections taking place in 2024. The governor serves as a state’s top executive official and is the only executive office elected in all 50 states. There are currently 27 Republican governors and 23 Democratic governors. Click here for an overview of all 11 gubernatorial elections taking place in 2024.