The weeks leading up to the election of local, state and federal officials -- dubbed the "silly season" by many -- starts earlier than usual in Washington state. The filing period for candidates was last week, earlier than usual, because the primary election moves to the first Tuesday in August.
It wasn't that long ago that folks didn't even think (or, at least, like to think) about politics until after Labor Day. That's when the primary was the third Tuesday in September. Half a dozen years ago it moved to the third Tuesday in August. That, however, wasn't early enough to accommodate the schedule for the November General Election, which remains the first Tuesday in November in this state and throughout the nation.
The state's primary is now the first Tuesday in August, making it Aug. 7 this year.
And because Washington voters have adopted the Top-Two Primary system, candidates from the same political parties can face each other in the General Election.
All this means there will be contested elections on the ballot locally.
Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, is facing a challenge from a fellow Republican, Mary Beth Edwards. Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, is opposed by Democrat Scott Nettles.
Two Walla Walla County Board of Commissioners seats on the ballot will be GOP vs. GOP races.
In the District 2 race, incumbent Perry Dozier has been challenged by Chris Blackman and Frank Brown. The field will be narrowed to two in the August primary, but only those who live in District 2 are eligible to vote. In the District 1 race, newly appoint Commissioner Jim Johnson will face Mark Spinks.
Statewide, the ballot is going to be full in August and November. There are at least three candidates running for every statewide office except for treasurer, in which Democrat Jim McIntire is unopposed.
The major reason for the crowded ballots is the incumbent governor, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general are not seeking re-election. In addition, two dozen incumbent legislators are not running again.
"This is unprecedented, as far as I know," said retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed. "Of all years, it's time for citizens to get involved. If they can't get excited about a candidate or an issue this year, there's something wrong with them."
The summer heat -- as well as vacations -- make it a challenge to focus on the election and the issues, but that's what has to be done.
The primary is just over two months away. It's time to focus on local, state and national politics.