Popular Democratic Gov. Gary Locke is not seeking a third term in 2004. Locke, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said he wanted to return to a normal life with his family.
Democratic Attorney General Christine Gregoire faces Republican Dino Rossi for Locke's open seat. Gregoire won the Democratic nomination against King County Executive Ron Sims, who waged an aggressive campaign, by a nearly 3-1 margin.
Gregoire is the state's first female attorney general and a prime architect of the landmark $206 billion settlement between the states and the tobacco industry.
Dino Rossi, a former state senator, walked to the GOP nomination. But while Gregoire dominated in the polls and money leading up to the Democratic primary, leaders of the Seattle black community criticized her for belonging to an all-white sorority in the 1960s.
Gregoire accused her primary opponent Sims of planting the story, and argued that she helped get the sorority's racial policy reversed. Sims denied any role in the story, but built his campaign on a risky proposal for a state income tax.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray will fight for a third term against GOP Rep. George Nethercutt. He beat out five other Republicans to take on the two-term senator.
In making the run for Senate, Nethercutt gives up what would have been his sixth term in the House. Republican State Rep. Cathy McMorris will take on Democrat Don Barbieri, the CEO of a hotel company, for the eastern Washington seat left open by Nethercutt. Nethercutt made history in 1994 by defeating then-House Speaker Tom Foley, a Democrat who had represented the district for 30 years.
A Republican-dominated district in Seattle's suburbs saw the law officer who caught the Green River serial killer, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, beat three Republicans for a chance to win the seat left open by retiring Rep. Jennifer Dunn. Reichert faces Democrat Dave Ross.
Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee ended speculation that he would run for governor, opting instead to seek re-election in the 1st District. Inslee, now serving his fourth term, said he was intrigued by the governor's job, but decided to remain in the House, where he has been a vocal critic of President Bush and congressional Republicans.
In the state's 2002 House races, all nine U.S. House members won re-election.
Voters rejected a proposal to raise the state gasoline tax to pay for a massive slate of highway improvements, mostly in the Seattle area.
Rep. Jim McDermott was returned to office in a landslide weeks after going to Baghdad to blister President Bush's Iraq policies, and to praise the trustworthiness of Saddam Hussein's pledges of unfettered inspections.