This year’s contest for Lieutenant Governor in Washington State pits two Democrats against each other in the final round: U.S. Representative Denny Heck and State Senator Marko Liias. Heck is a four term member of Congress who is retiring from federal politics while Liias is a veteran state legislator who serves as Majority Floor Leader and would like to make the jump to higher office.
It’s unusual for a statewide race to have two candidates in it from the same party in the final round. But Republican voters were pretty split as to who they wanted for Lieutenant Governor in the August Top Two election, which resulted in both of the top two spots going to Democratic candidates. (Something similar happened in 2016 in the Treasurer’s race, which was a runoff between two Republicans.)
Our research finds that Representative Denny Heck has a big advantage in the contest for Lieutenant Governor. 32% of likely Washington voters surveyed by our pollster a week ago said they are voting for Heck, while only 16% said they were voting for State Senator Mark Liias. A whopping 52% said they were not sure.
(The high number of not sure respondents is undoubtedly in part due to the fact that there was no Republican candidate available for respondents to choose, though Joshua Freed is running a write-in campaign.)
Each candidate has support from key constituencies and distinguished leaders within the Democratic Party. Former Governors Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire back Heck, while current Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib supports Liias.
Most of Liias’ colleagues in the State Senate have endorsed him, as well, while Heck is endorsed by the majority of his in-state congressional colleagues.
Here are the numbers again and the exact question we asked:
QUESTION: The 2020 candidates for Lieutenant Governor are Democrat Denny Heck and Democrat Marko Liias. Who are you voting for?
- Denny Heck: 32%
- Marko Liias: 16%
- Not sure: 52%
Our survey of six hundred and ten likely 2020 Washington State voters was in the field from Wednesday, October 14th through Thursday, October 15th.
It utilizes a blended methodology, with automated phone calls to landlines and text message answers from cell phone only respondents.
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.0% at the 95% confidence level.
The Lieutenant Governor of Washington State has three main duties:
- Presiding over the Washington State Senate (the Lieutenant Governor also chairs the very important Senate Rules Committee);
- Stepping in for the Governor and assuming that position when the state’s chief executive is not available or able to perform their duties;
- Serving as liaison between Washington State’s government and diplomatic missions from other countries.
The position is not as high profile as Governor or Attorney General, but is nevertheless important. Democrats have held the office of Lieutenant Governor for decades, and it is all but guaranteed to remain in Democratic hands for another four years as a result of the August Top Two election.
Heck and Liias will appear tonight in a televised statewide organized by the Washington State Debate Coalition, which NPI is a supporter of.
Jessica Janner Castro of KING 5 News, Michelle Esteban of KOMO News, Scott Leadingham (NWPB News Manager) and TVW’s Mike McClahanan will moderate.
Voting in the 2020 presidential election is currently in progress and is set to conclude on November 3rd, 2020 at 8 PM Pacific in Washington State.