Coronavirus cases are spiking. A major election is looming. And Washington’s legislative session is still two months away. But Washington’s beer lobby has a message for top elected officials that apparently can't wait.

Washington Secretary of State's Office

State and local election officials in Washington said Thursday that election systems here are secure and haven’t been hacked. Those assurances follow multiple reports in recent days of efforts by foreign actors to interfere with the upcoming national election.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In a year that seems all about the presidential election, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening down the ballot. In Washington, all nine statewide elected positions are up this year. But some of the fiercest action, and biggest spending, is happening in state legislative races.

For context, Democrats currently hold strong majorities in both the Washington House (57 to 41) and Senate (28 to 21 -- the 21st is a Democrat who votes with Republicans).

From Clark County to Whatcom County, from Puyallup to the heart of Seattle, only a handful of the 124 legislative contests are fiercely competitive. Some feature one Republican and one Democrat. Others are intra-party contests.

We aren’t going to get to them all. Instead, here’s a quick guide to six of the hottest statehouse contests across the state.

Note: the campaign finance numbers below were current as of October 22. For the latest numbers click here and sort by money raised or spent. 

Jay Inslee photo by Austin Jenkins, NW News Network. / Loren Culp photo courtesy Culp campaign

Washington’s race for governor is a lopsided, yet surprisingly fiery contest this year. It pits incumbent Democrat Jay Inslee against Republican Loren Culp, a first-time candidate. Inslee is seeking a rare third term while Culp is trying to pull off the upset of the century.

Nevada Seismo Lab/webcam

Doug Coleman had just returned home after staying up for more than 24 hours. He was exhausted. He’d evacuated as the Cold Springs Fire came closer to his property. Flames quickly fanned across north-central Washington’s Okanogan County over Labor Day weekend.

Credit: Kim Wyman and Gael Tarleton campaigns

For more than half a century, Republicans have had a lock on Washington’s Secretary of State’s office. This year, Democrats hope to end that five decade run by unseating incumbent Kim Wyman who’s seeking a third term.

Democrats feel they have the political winds at their back and an unusually strong challenger in Gael Tarleton, a state lawmaker and former Port of Seattle commissioner who once worked as a defense intelligence analyst for the Pentagon.

Republicans, meanwhile, are counting on a long history of ticket-splitting by Washington voters who might repudiate President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, but be willing to support a veteran elections official and familiar state Republican further down the ballot.

KUOW Photo / Dyer Oxley

The Supreme Court of the State of Washington struck down the voter-approved $30 car tab initiative Thursday morning, stating it is unconstitutional.

Courtesy of Rye Development

After more than two years of talking, environment and industry groups say they’ll work together to address climate change. To do that, they say they’ll promote hydropower and healthy rivers, according to a joint statement.

The groups, often at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to dams and hydropower, say climate change has created a need to hear each other out. Even when it comes to tough issues. 

Lt. Governor's Office

Outgoing Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib is on unpaid leave attending Jesuit training in California and does not plan to return to his office before his term is up in January, according to his office and the office of Gov. Jay Inslee.

In a statement Tuesday to the public radio Northwest News Network and the Associated Press, the executive director of the lieutenant governor's office, Kristina Brown, said Habib, a Democrat, began his leave on Sept. 1 and notified both Inslee and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig at that time.

Courtesy of Linda Haugen

Ardel McPhail says it’s foggy now most mornings on her family’s cranberry bogs just north of IIwaco, Washington, near the Pacific Coast. 

She and her husband own the largest bogs in Washington —  more than 100 acres. 

Washington grows about 148,000 100-pound barrels of cranberries and Oregon grows about 558,000 barrels each year. 

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