Upsets the order of the day during primary election

Expectations were turned on their heads in two Kitsap County political contests during Tuesday night’s primary election, as the perceived front-runners came in third and were disqualified in their respective races.

Republican Tim Matthes drew the most votes in the South Kitsap commissioner’s race, followed by Democrat Charlotte Garrido.

Monty Mahan, who was the first to declare for the seat and earned the endorsement of local mayors, came in third (See related story, page A3).

For the Kitsap County Superior Court judgeship, Jeanette Dalton had the lead with Bruce Danielson finishing second.

Greg Wall, who was endorsed by Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge and several other high-profile lawyers, finished third.

Both contests are for seats that opened up with the retirement of the incumbent. And both showed wide margins that are not expected to change when all the votes are counted.

As of Thursday, Matthes led the total with 5,645 votes (42.11 percent), while Garrido drew 4,434 (33.08 percent). Mahan tallied 2,682 votes (20.01 percent), while Independent candidate Paul Nuchims, who withdrew from the race this weekend, received 624 votes (4.65 percent).

Garrido has run in the past five commissioner’s races.

After serving one term, she was defeated in the 2000 Democratic primary by Dusty Wiley, who was in turn defeated by Jan Angel.

Garrido unsuccessfully challenged Angel in 2004.

“I’ve been diligently active in the community for 31 years,” she said of her persistence. “This is a unique county, and I think I can make a difference.”

Matthes said he was “surprised and relieved” about coming in first, but said he expected to face Mahan in the general election.

He said he will run a strong campaign against Garrido, saying, “Charlotte has a strong constituency in South Kitsap but she has a history. I expect we will examine some of the votes she made as commissioner.”

Only South Kitsap residents voted in the Tuesday primary, but the two candidates will face voters throughout the county in the fall.

Garrido is thought to have an advantage in North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island, both heavily Democratic, but Matthes does not concede these areas.

He said he will campaign heavily up north, adding, “A lot of people tell me I shouldn’t even bother with Bainbridge Island, but I think I can do well there.”

Mahan said he was surprised by the third place finish, although he was not as certain of his victory as some of his supporters. “I was nervous, but I thought things were going the right way.”

Mahan was the first to declare for the race, and had built a base of support in both parties. He is perceived as more of a centrist than Garrido, and said he would not have run against Angel — who is a Republican — had she chosen to seek another term.

He had also built a strong constituency among local leaders, and was endorsed by Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman and Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, among others. And at a meeting with the McCormick Woods annexation committee last week, he was referred to several times as “the front runner.”

Dalton, who was the most recent entry in the judge’s race, received 16,548 (43.18 percent), followed by 12,578 (32.82 percent) for Danielson and 9,099 (23.74 percent) for Wall.

Dalton congratulated Wall for a well-run race, saying, “He is a qualified candidate and it was a pleasure appearing with him at several forums.”

Wall did not immediately concede defeat, saying Wednesday that the vote totals could change.

Neither candidate had praise for Danielson, who has declined to campaign in front of or accept money from local attorneys.

Danielson was rated as “unqualified” to be a judge by the local Bar Association, and was also the subject of two anonymous document leaks criticizing his past conduct.

While Dalton said, “The Bar Association has spoken,” she promised to run a positive campaign.

Wall was more outspoken, saying, “We don’t like Bruce because he doesn’t have the experience to be a judge. He is a collection agency lawyer. And his whole schtick is anti-lawyer and anti-court. The legal profession is an honorable one, and we don’t like hearing these things from someone who wants to be judge.”

Danielson has not sought Bar endorsements or contributions, but he does not characterize himself as “anti-lawyer.”

And in a counter to Wall’s “honorable profession” designation, both of the recent anonymous critics of Danielson were identified as members of the legal community.

With Danielson’s second-place finish, the Wall and Dalton forces will join together to ensure his defeat.

“I have the best experience and the qualifications to be a judge,” she said. “I have already been tested. And I trust the voters to elect the candidate who is most highly qualified.”

Danielson said he thought Wall would get more votes but was not surprised by his own showing.

“I am receiving support from across the board and from many different sources,” he said. “My message is resonating.”

He said his message included the restructuring of court procedures and the equal application of the law, but acknowledged that he operated outside of the mainstream of the Kitsap County legal establishment.

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