The rich may be about to get richer in the Washington Legislature.
Tuesday's "top two" primary will greatly define the battlefield for this fall's legislative campaigns, and going in two things are abundantly clear: Democrats, with a 63-35 majority in the House and a 32-17 majority in the Senate, have much more turf to protect. But they also have more money to fight off challengers and might even threaten to conquer seats in Republican strongholds.
Tuesday's primary will be telling. With voters no longer confined to choosing from only one party's slate of candidates, the primary will serve as a poll highlighting the state's hottest campaigns.
There are about a dozen hot races in swing districts. There is a batch of perhaps two dozen more that might reveal themselves to be more competitive than previously thought.
House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said he's tracking about 20 races.
Republican prospects are best in the Senate, where Democrats are taking a defensive posture and already are bracing for a tough 2010 election cycle. Top Republican targets are Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen, D-Eatonville, and Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island.
Democrats are confident they'll keep the seats and hold out hope they'll be able to unseat Republican Sens. Mike Carrell of Lakewood and Val Stevens of Arlington.
In the House, four Republican seats and five Democratic seats are targeted. Republicans are going after Democratic Reps. Don Barlow of Spokane, Liz Loomis of Snohomish and Roger Goodman of Kirkland, and they are angling to pick up open Democratic seats in the Gig Harbor and Mercer Island areas.