County breaks with state on presidential election

OKANOGAN COUNTY – Okanogan County broke with the rest of the state on who should be president, with voters favoring John McCain slightly over now president-elect Barack Obama.

In Okanogan County McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin received 6,942 or 51.27 percent of the vote compared to the team of Obama and Joe Biden who received 6,163 or 45.52 percent. Candidate Ralph Nader received the next highest with 173 (1.28 percent), Chuck Baldwin 73 (0.54 percent) and Bob Bar 69 (0.51 percent). Statewide Obama-Biden, who won White House, received 57 percent of the vote to McCain-Palin’s 41 percent.

Locally, the voters favored incumbent Ande Lampe for the position of Okanogan County Commissioner District 1. Lampe bested challenger Larry Campbell with 6051 (55.15 percent) to Campbell’s 4,764 (43.42 percent.) Don “Bud” Hoover, who ran unopposed for Okanogan County Commissioner District 2, will serve another four years in that position.

“It is just very humbling and I appreciate all the support I received in the last election campaign,” said Commissioner Lampe, who will be serving his second four-year term.

“I look forward to serving and continue the work we have been working on,” he said.

Lampe wants to see through projects that include additional trails for recreation and the successful completion of the Whistler Canyon Trail project.

He also wants the county to continue to pursue water banking to make sure water rights aren’t sold down the river. Lampe and his fellow commissioners are working with a Council of Government (COG) that includes Okanogan, Ferry, Pend Oreille, Lincoln and Stevens counties on the water issue.

“We share so many of the same issues… basically we were being ignored at the state level. We are better heard when we combine together,” he said.

Lampe doesn’t see the current national economic downturn having the same affect on the county as it has elsewhere in the nation — at least not yet.

“It is still too early. Okanogan County has always been somewhat depressed… recently we’ve moved up to ‘distressed.’ I feel for practical purposes we won’t see much day-to-day affect, but where it will hurt is people who are retirees who have IRAs and 401Ks that see their retirements fading away,” he said.

Lampe pledges to continue to be very conservative and feels the county will be able to balance the budget this year.

Okanogan County voters helped to return 5th District Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers to the U.S. House of Representatives for a third term. In the county the popular former 7th District State Representative received 66.27 percent of the vote over her challenger Democrat Mark Mays, who earned 33.56 percent.

“Representing Eastern Washington in Congress continues to be an honor and I thank the voters for re-electing me for another term,” said McMorris Rodgers.

“(The election’s) results show(s) that people want Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve some of our most pressing challenges including fixing our economy and reducing energy costs. I will continue to work with Democrats if they are serious about changing the way our government works but will fight for Eastern Washington if they try to take down our dams, lock up our natural resources and raise our taxes,” she said.

The county’s own Peter Goldmark, an Okanogan rancher, ousted incumbent Doug Southerland. In the county Goldmark, a Democrat, edged out the Republican by less than one percent of the vote. However, statewide Goldmark took the office by a much larger margin.

In a statement after he won the election, Goldmark said, “I am so grateful to the people of Washington for their support in restoring public trust to the management of our public lands. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in this important role, and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

As I have said throughout this campaign, I am fundamentally committed to protecting the job base in our forests, expanding opportunities for renewable energy investment and securing public access and recreational opportunity.

My goal is sustainable management of public resources, transparency in management, and reliance on science and law in decision making. With those principles, I believe we can leave a positive legacy for future generations.”

County voters parted company with the rest of the state on who should be governor. While the state returned Democrat Christine Gregoire, Okanogan County favored the Republican candidate, Dino Rossi by nearly a 20 percent margin.

Republican Seventh District State Rep. Joel Kretz went unchallenged for his seat in Position 2, while Position 1 saw a battle between two Republicans under the state’s new top-two primary rules. Shelly Short bested her opponent Sue Lani Madsen two to one in Okanogan County and went on to win in the rest of the district as well.

The county went the way of the state regarding Tim Eyeman’s latest Transportation Initiative, (I-985) which failed by a wide majority. In fact, the majority of the county and state voters agreed on all three measures on the ballot – Voting yes on I-1000 and I-1029. I-1000 allows certain terminally ill competent adults to obtain lethal prescriptions to end their lives. And I-1029 requires long-term care workers to be certified as home care aides based on an examination, with exceptions; increases training and criminal background check requirements; and establishes disciplinary standards and procedures.

The election totals for Okanogan County are considered unofficial until they have been certified by the elections board. For further information on how Okanogan County citizens voted in the General Election visit where there are links to state and county totals.