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How Clallam County picks its governors

Clallam County, Wash., knows how to pick a winner— at least when it comes to presidential politics.

Every four years, going back to 1980, it has voted for the winning presidential candidate, making it the county with the longest record of anticipating the country’s next commander-in-chief— whether Republican or Democrat. That puts Clallam County at odds with Washington, a state that hasn’t selected a Republican presidential candidate since 1984. While Clallam has voted Republican in six of the last 11 presidential elections, Washington has voted Republican in only two.

When it comes to choosing Washington’s governor, Clallam County has struck a more consistent note, though one still mostly at odds with the rest of the state. Clallam has voted Republican in eight out of the last 11 gubernatorial elections. Since 1980, Clallam County has voted for a Democrat in 1984, 1988, and 2000, and for a Republican ever since.

Washington, however, has selected a Democratic governor in every election since 1984.

The following table contrasts Clallam’s gubernatorial voting record since 2000 with Washington’s statewide results.

Although Clallam has selected Republican governors since 2004, the results have been close, with no more than a 10% margin separating the Republican candidate from the Democratic one. In 2008, 2016, and 2020, the margin separating the two candidates was under two percent, reflecting Clallam’s political diversity.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks— in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities.



A recent history of presidential election bellwether counties

The United States is composed of 3,143 counties or county equivalents. Of them, Clallam County, in northwest Washington, has the longest record of always voting for the winning presidential candidate.

Since 1980, Clallam County has voted in every presidential election for the candidate that would go on to win the White House. Since 1920, it has only voted for the losing candidate in 1968 and 1976. Political scientists have a term for counties or states that anticipate how the rest of the country will vote—bellwethers.

Before the 2020 election, Clallam was one of 19 counties with an unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate since 1980. Those counties were:

  1. Warren County, Ill.
  2. Vigo County, Ind.
  3. Bremer County, Iowa
  4. Washington County, Maine
  5. Shiawassee County, Mich.
  6. Van Buren County, Mich.
  7. Hidalgo County, N.M.
  8. Valencia County, N.M.
  9. Cortland County, N.Y.
  10. Otsego County, N.Y.
  11. Ottawa County, Ohio
  12. Wood County, Ohio
  13. Essex County, Vt.
  14. Westmoreland County, Va.
  15. Juneau County, Wis.
  16. Marquette County, Wis.
  17. Richland County, Wis.
  18. Sawyer County, Wis.

Until the 2020 election, Valencia County, N.M., held the record for the longest streak of selecting the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1952. Vigo County, Ind. began selecting the winning presidential candidate in 1956. Ottawa County, Ohio, Westmoreland County, Va., Juneau County, Wis., and Sawyer County, Wis., started their streak in 1964.

Clallam County is holding municipal elections in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks—in 2021. Twenty-six offices are up for election in those cities.

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Since Aug. 10, four states have implemented universal indoor mask requirements

Between Aug. 10 and Sept. 2, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington announced new indoor mask requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

In Illinois, an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals went into effect on Aug. 30. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced the policy on Aug. 26. Illinois had previously lifted its mask requirement, which lasted for 407 days between May 1, 2020, and June 11, 2021.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 11, and announced an outdoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 24. The orders took effect on Aug. 13 and Aug. 27, respectively. Oregon had previously lifted its mask requirement, which lasted for 365 days between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

On Aug. 17, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals would take effect on Aug. 20. Previously, New Mexico had an indoor mask requirement in place only for unvaccinated individuals. It had lifted the requirement for vaccinated individuals on May 14, 2021.

In Washington, an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals took effect on Aug. 23. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced the policy on Aug. 18. The requirement does not apply to small gatherings or office environments where everyone is vaccinated and interaction with the public is rare, or while working alone. Inslee previously lifted the indoor mask requirement for vaccinated individuals on May 13, 2021.

Three states currently have statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and 7 states have statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All 10 of the states have Democratic governors.

In total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. Three states (Louisiana, Oregon, and Illinois) that allowed a statewide order to fully expire later reinstated a mask order.



Washington school board candidate who suspended campaign gets most primary votes, re-enters race

Kristi Schmeck, who suspended her campaign for a seat on the five-member Sequim School District Board of Directors in the late spring, rejoined the race after receiving the most votes in the Aug. 2 primary. Schmeck received 28.85% of the vote for the Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat, while Virginia R. Sheppard, the candidate with the second most votes, received 28.58%. In Washington, the top two vote-getters in a primary advance to the general election.

Incumbent Brandino Gibson did not file to run for re-election.

The Sequim School District spans Clallam and Jefferson counties in Washington and is located in the westernmost part of the state on the Olympic Peninsula. Clallam County has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980.

According to the Sequim Gazette, Schmeck said on June 1 that she was attempting to remove her name from the ballot for personal reasons. S

he was unsuccessful, as she tried to withdraw her name after the May 21 filing deadline.

The Peninsula Daily News reported on Aug. 23 that Schmeck wrote in an email that she changed her mind about the race after seeing the primary results.

Schmeck and Sheppard will appear on the general election ballot on Nov. 2. In a candidate statement submitted to the Washington Secretary of State, Schmeck said she’d been an “educator/coach for over 25 years” and Athletic Director at a charter school. She received a bachelor’s in physical education and completed a teaching credential program and health science credential at Chico State University in California.

Schmeck wrote, “As a Mother and Grandmother, I’m committed to the health and future success of our youth. For over 25 years, I have worked as a school teacher, basketball and track coach. Empowering student’s success is the driving force in my life. Running for School Board gives me the opportunity to bring my passion and years of experience to the next level, and collaborate to make positive changes that are visibly needed in our schools.”

In her candidate statement, Sheppard said she operates Generations Boutique, a small business, and has worked as a corporate collections coordinator and construction assistant. She attended Santa Monica City College and Port Angeles High School.

Sheppard wrote, “Experience matters! I am a mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother. I find the need to step up and speak for the children of today and the future. I have had to sit back and watch our schools fail to teach our children the full history of America. Now we are told that American History must give way to Critical Race Theory, a largely untested proposition that assigns blame for many of society’s ills to one race of people, as if the cure for racism was another type of racism.”

In an email to the Peninsula Daily News, Schmeck wrote “[a]s a school board member our responsibility is to represent the community, parents and our students. My main concerns are the implementation of Critical Race Theory, the new adopted sex education program (CSE), and parents rights.”

The Director at Large, Position No. 4 seat is one of two seats on the Board up for election in 2021. Brian Kuh, the Director District No. 2 incumbent, declined to file for re-election. One candidate—Patrice Johnston—filed to enter that race.



Clallam County municipal primary results certified

The Clallam County Auditor certified Aug. 3 primary elections Tuesday. Top-two primaries took place in three cities in the county—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. Eight offices appeared on primary ballots.

Clallam County, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Clallam County became a Boomerang Pivot County in 2020, meaning voters voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, voted for Trump in 2016, and then voted for Biden in 2020.

Ballotpedia is covering elections for 26 total offices in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks in 2021. In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district.

In Port Angeles, the county seat, the following candidates advanced to the Nov. 2 general election:

Port Angeles School District Director Position No. 2

  1. Mary Hebert (34.37%)
  2. Gabi Johnson (33.1)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 1

  1. LaTrisha Suggs (incumbent) (46.9%)
  2. Adam Garcia (41.23%)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 2

  1. Mike French (incumbent) (56.85%)
  2. John Madden (35.75%)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 3

  1. Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin (incumbent) (41.4%)
  2. Jena Stamper (37.34%)

Port Angeles City Council Position No. 4

  1. Kate Dexter (incumbent) (53.33%)
  2. John W. Procter (41.1%)

In Sequim, the following candidates advanced to the Nov. 2 general election:

Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 (multi-county race includes votes from Jefferson County)

  1. Virginia R. Sheppard (28.58%)
  2. Kristi Schmeck (28.85%)

Fire District #3, Commissioner Position No. 1 (multi-county race includes votes from Jefferson County)

  1. Duane Chamlee (34.94%)
  2. Jeff Nicholas (56.68%)

In Forks, the following candidates advanced to the Nov. 2 general election:

Forks City Council Position No. 2

  1. Josef Echeita (31.1%)
  2. Clinton W. Wood (58.74%)


Port Angeles, Forks city council candidates advance to the general election

Ten city council candidates running for five seats in the cities of Port Angeles and Forks, in Clallam County, Wa., advanced to the Nov. 2 general election. The primary was Aug. 3.

Clallam County, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, has the nation’s longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in the county backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Washington uses a top-two primary system, in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. In total, 15 city council candidates appeared on the primary ballot. In Clallam County, nonpartisan elections skip the primary and appear only on the general election ballot when fewer than three candidates file for the election or the office is a cemetery or parks and recreation district.

Eleven city council seats are up for election in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks in 2021. Five city council seats appeared on primary ballots, while the other six will appear on general election ballots.

Vote totals below are current as of Aug. 12. The Clallam County Auditor’s office plans to conduct the next ballot count on Aug. 17.

In Port Angeles, the county seat, four of the seven city council positions are up for election in 2021, and all four appeared on the primary ballot.

Incumbent LaTrisha Suggs, who holds the Council Position No. 1 seat, and Adam Garcia advanced to the general election. Suggs won 47.02% of the vote, while Garcia won 41.07%. In the race for Council Position No. 2, incumbent Mike French and John Madden advanced to the general, with French winning 56.94% of the vote to Madden’s 35.67%. Council Position No. 3 Incumbent Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin advanced to the general after winning 41.48% of the vote, alongside Jena Stamper who won 37.25%. In the race for Council Position No. 4, Mayor Kate Dexter won 53.45% of the vote to John W. Procter’s 41.02%.

Port Angeles council members are elected to four-year terms. The council elects a mayor and deputy mayor from among the seven members.

In Forks, two of the five city council seats are up for election in 2021, and one of them appeared on the primary ballot.

Josef Echeita and Clinton W. Wood advanced to the general election in the City Council Position No. 2 race. Wood won 58.81% of the vote to Echeita’s 30.94%.

Forks city council members are elected for four-year terms. Voters also elect the mayor. The mayor’s office will appear on the general election ballot.  

In Sequim, five of the seven city council seats are up for election, but because only two candidates filed to run in each race, all five skipped the primary and will appear in the general election.



Incumbent Pete Holmes concedes Seattle city attorney election

Pete Holmes, the incumbent Seattle city attorney, conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on August 6, 2021, in the top-two primary election held August 3. As of August 10, the latest election results showed Thomas-Kennedy with 35.5% of the vote followed by Davison with 33% and Holmes with 31.2%. Davison and Thomas-Kennedy will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021.

Davison is an attorney and arbitrator and attended Willamette University College of Law and Baylor University. She ran for lieutenant governor as a Republican in 2020. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and that she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Former Gov. Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison.

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney and attended Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and Seattle University School of Law. She described her policy priorities as decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her campaign website said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” The Seattle newspaper The Stranger endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote to Lindsay’s 25% and ran unopposed in the 2013 general election. Although he led in fundraising leading up to the primary election, The Cascadia Advocate‘s Andrew Villeneuve said that Davison and Thomas-Kennedy were “right behind Holmes as voting begins in the August 2021 Top Two election, with 53% of likely voters not sure who they’re voting for.” In a poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute from July 12 through July 15, 2021, 16% of respondents chose Holmes, 14% chose Davison, and 14% chose Thomas-Kennedy. David Kroman of Crosscut called Holmes’ concession “a tectonic political upset that sets the stage for a stark and divisive race to succeed him as the city’s top lawyer.”

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

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Voters approve Washington sheriff recall election

A recall election seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington was held on Aug. 3. A majority of voters cast yes ballots, approving the recall. Hatcher will be removed from office once results from the election are finalized.

The recall effort began in July 2020 and was led by the Benton County Sheriff’s Guild. Members of the guild said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. 

Hatcher, who first took office in May 2017, said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.

Washington requires recall petitions to be reviewed by a judge before they can be circulated. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition against Hatcher on Aug. 20, 2020. Hatcher appealed the decision to the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled on Nov. 6 that the recall effort could move forward and begin collecting signatures. The 13,937 signatures required to get the recall on the ballot was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election. Recall supporters submitted 16,552 signatures on April 23. The Benton County Auditor verified 14,215 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Voters to decide mayor, city council primaries in Seattle on Aug. 3

Seattle holds top-two, nonpartisan primaries for mayor, two at-large city council seats, and city attorney on Aug. 3. Races for the mayor’s office and one city council seat are open. Incumbent City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and City Attorney Pete Holmes are seeking re-election.

Mayoral primary

Fifteen candidates are on the mayoral primary ballot, with six leading in endorsements, fundraising, or media attention. Four of the six have served in city or state government. Casey Sixkiller was Seattle’s deputy mayor from 2020 until his mayoral campaign. Lorena González is the city council president. Bruce Harrell was city council president from 2016 to 2017 and from 2018 to 2019. Jessyn Farrell was a state representative from 2013 to 2017.

Colleen Echohawk is the executive director of Chief Seattle Club, an organization providing services to American Indian and Alaska Native people. Andrew Grant Houston, an architect, owns a business and served as Mosqueda’s interim policy manager.

City Council primaries

Seattle has nine city council seats, seven of which are elected by district and two, citywide. The seven district seats were last up for election in 2019. The two at-large seats are up this year.

Position 9 is open as González, the incumbent, is running for mayor. Three of seven candidates have led in endorsements, fundraising, and media attention: Fremont Brewing co-owner Sara Nelson, attorney and Creative Justice executive director Nikkita Oliver, and Brianna Thomas, who serves as González’s chief of staff.

Local media outlets have said the position 8 seat is uncompetitive, with Mosqueda, the incumbent, favored to win.

City councilmembers’ endorsees

Five current city councilmembers endorsed in the mayoral race. Mosqueda, Tammy Morales, Lisa Herbold, and Andrew Lewis endorsed González. Dan Strauss endorsed both Echohawk and Farrell. Harrell has the most endorsements from former councilmembers (four).

In the city council position 9 election, Thomas received endorsements from González, Herbold, Strauss, and Lewis. Mosqueda and Morales endorsed Oliver. Five former councilmembers endorsed Nelson.

Two of the three council members who have not endorsed in either race—Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen—were the two candidates who won in 2019 with backing from the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee. They also were the two council members to oppose Seattle’s 2020 ordinance instituting a tax on companies with payrolls of $7 million or more a year. CASE is not active in the 2021 election cycle.

Kshama Sawant, the third council member who has not endorsed, is a member of Socialist Alternative and is the target of a current recall effort.

City attorney election

Incumbent Pete Holmes, Ann Davison, and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running. Holmes first took office in 2009. Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (D) and state Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti (D) are among his endorsers. Davison, an attorney and arbitrator, received endorsements from The Seattle Times and former Gov. Dan Evans (R). She ran for lieutenant governor in 2020 and city council in 2019. Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney. The Stranger endorsed her.



Washington sheriff recall to be held Aug. 3

A recall election seeking to remove Jerry Hatcher from his position as Benton County Sheriff in Washington is being held on Aug. 3. Recall supporters had to collect 13,937 signatures in six months to put the recall on the ballot. 

The recall effort began in July 2020 and was led by the Benton County Sheriff’s Guild. Members of the guild said Hatcher had performed his duties in an improper manner, committed illegal acts, and violated his oath of office. 

Hatcher, who first took office in May 2017, said the guild was refusing to hold deputies accountable. He said the guild would not let him take disciplinary action against employees who committed wrongdoing.

Washington requires recall petitions to be reviewed by a judge before they can be circulated. Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Scott Wolfram approved the recall petition against Hatcher on Aug. 20, 2020. Hatcher appealed the decision to the Washington Supreme Court, which ruled on Nov. 6 that the recall effort could move forward and begin collecting signatures. The 13,937 signatures required to get the recall on the ballot was equal to 25% of the votes cast in the last sheriff election. Recall supporters submitted 16,552 signatures on April 23. The Benton County Auditor verified 14,215 signatures, allowing the recall to be put on the ballot.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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