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Primaries are heating up in the NW: Today So Far

  • The primaries are heating up in Washington state with Trump-backed candidates going up against their Republican counterparts.
  • Want to take a trip? Consider putting your tourism dollars to good use.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for May 17, 2022.

If you are going to get back out there and see the world — after two years of social distancing — why not make your tourism dollars do some good while you're at it?

That's the premise of KUOW's Travel for Good series. Folks are re-emerging, giving hope to areas that depend on those out-of-town dollars. Tourism in Washington state has taken a hit amid pandemic shutdowns. About 13% fewer people showed up to visit around here in 2021, while tourism revenue went down 19% from 2019 numbers.

KUOW has come up with eight tourist ideas for those who want their dollars to make a positive impact. Check them out here. One example is the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula. Decades old dams have been removed on the river in recent years, which has spurred big changes in the ecosystem there. Now, an ecotourism company, Experience Olympic, is providing tours of the river, showing the environmental change. If you head over there, you're likely to pass through Port Angeles, and maybe you decide to stay the night. Maybe you pick up gas in Sequim. And maybe you stop in Port Townsend for lunch. All that tourist money, brought in by ecotourism, is apt to provide a major incentive for conservation in those parts.

Check out the full story on the Elwha River here.

It's primary day for many states, including our neighbor Idaho. That means voters are choosing the top contenders to advance to the midterms. In many areas, it seems that voters are choosing between a party's candidate, and an extreme option. Idaho is a good example.

KUOW's Kim Malcolm sat down with Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner who has been watching developments in the gem state.

Current Republican Gov. Brad Little is already pretty conservative. For example, he signed a trigger law that would make abortion illegal in the state should Roe v Wade be overturned. He's up against Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is arguing that she is receiving bad press via "guilt by association" narratives. However, her associations happen to be with white nationalists and influencers who promote that Covid isn't real. She says that Gov. Little's abortion trigger law isn't good enough and aims to make it more restrictive. Trump has endorsed McGeachin for governor.

RELATED: How the 'Replacement' theory went mainstream on the political right

Brunner points out that there are similarities to Washington politics, such as Trump-backed Loren Culp who has denied election results around his failed run for governor. Down in Washington's 3rd Congressional District, Trump-approved Joe Kent is aiming to unseat Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler. But Kent was also found mingling with a white nationalist, in fact, the same person as McGeachin — Nick Fuentes. Kent has made an effort to distance himself from Fuentes. McGeachin essentially says it's not a big deal that she was a speaker at his event.

I've previously written about extremism in our region and how it often goes under the radar. Abass Golfrey, assistant special agent in charge for the FBI's office in Seattle, once told me that extremist groups are popping up "on the left and on the right" around here. But he noted that the right end of the political spectrum is quite active these days. Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich also told me that one tactic such extremists use is running for political office. And it sometimes works. For example, former state representative Matt Shea (who was accused of engaging in domestic terrorism) is also from Spokane.

In the 8th Congressional District, just outside of Seattle, Democrat Kim Schrier is slated to defend her job against a handful of Republican challengers in the August primary. Republican Reagan Dunn is the most well-known name among that list. He has been known as a more moderate Republican, but his actions have recently challenged that perception.

RELATED: Abortion issue comes just in time for the 8th District toss up

Here's the thing. Washington's primaries advance the top two vote getters to the November election. We all know that those candidates are likely to be a Democrat and a Republican. So right now, the goal for the 8th's Republican candidates is to out GOP the next guy and get more right-leaning votes. As a King County Council member and as the son of a former 8th District representative, Dunn already has a big name among his party. But he also has to fight against a divided GOP vote.

Scott Stephenson is running as a Republican for the 8th. He wants to "end grooming and radical indoctrination" in schools. He also wants to stop the "invasion" at the border. So ... OK, moving on. Matt Larkin's campaign slogan is "Make Crime Illegal Again." His campaign materials seem to carry an anti-Seattle message (a city that is not in the 8th District). Finally, Jesse Jenson's issues are pretty common GOP talking points, though he seems concerned about AOC's influence here in Washington state. And he definitely doesn't like Putin.

To be clear, none of the Republican candidates running for the 8th Congressional District have come under fire for associations with white nationalists or have denied that Covid exists. They are all coming at the GOP from different angles; some extreme, some sensational, and a bit of the usual culture war thrown in for good measure. The 2022 primaries are the first step in setting the course for Congress. And locally, the 8th District primary in August should be interesting to watch.


KUOW live
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Credit: Photo courtesy of Hans Twite

KUOW's newest show Soundside went live from Town Hall Seattle recently. The show covered folk-punk rock, and a Nintendo memoir. (Hans Twite / KUOW)


“Washington, My Home” was approved by the Legislature as our official state anthem in 1959. Lyrics were written by Helen Davis and music was arranged by Stuart Churchill. However, this is not our first official state song. “Washington Beloved” came first. It was originally written for the University of Washington Glee Club, before the Legislature made it official in 1909.

With all due respect to its creators, the state song feels a bit dated; like something from "The Sound of Music." But the lesson here is that we can change it. We have plenty of locally written songs, or we could come up with something new. Jimi Hendrix wrote “Spanish Castle Magic” about a club near Seattle. The Presidents of the United States have a song called “F*** California,” which has been a sentiment in the Northwest since the ’90s (though most locals are probably from California at this point, so maybe not). And while it’s quite poetic, something about “In Circles” by Sunny Day Real Estate just feels like Washington to me. I’d love to hear your ideas. Feel free to email me at


caption: In this image from 2015 video provided by the Department of Defense, an unexplained object is seen as it is tracked soaring high along the clouds, traveling against the wind.
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In this image from 2015 video provided by the Department of Defense, an unexplained object is seen as it is tracked soaring high along the clouds, traveling against the wind.
Credit: Department of Defense via AP

Congress is holding its first UFO hearing in more than 50 years

Congress is set to hold its first public hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years today, as the House Intelligence committee hears testimony from military officials.