Democrat Suzan DelBene beat Republican John Koster in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District, a swing district. Tuesday night’s returns showed her leading 54 to 46 percent
She was ahead in three of four counties in the district in Tuesday’s incomplete vote county, leading in King County by 59 to 41 percent, and in Snohomish County, where Koster has been an elected official since 2000, she led 52 to 48 percent.
Koster led in Whatcom County by almost 57 to 43 percent, or 4,000 votes. DelBene was winning in rural Skagit County by 889 votes.
DelBene, a multimillionaire and former Microsoft vice president who briefly headed the state Department of Revenue, poured $2.8 million into her own race.
Koster is a longtime Snohomish County Council member and former dairy farmer making his third attempt at a congressional seat. He lost in 2000 and 2010 to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen. DelBene, too, lost in 2010 to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.
The race grew increasingly hostile in recent weeks. Koster was twice caught on tape during the campaign saying things that drew criticism. First, during a speech at a fundraiser, he said too much government assistance can lead to “slothfulness,” and later, he used the phrase “the rape thing” to explain his position on abortion rights. Both comments made national news.
Meanwhile, Koster’s campaign sought to paint DelBene as rich and out-of-touch with middle-class concerns, posting a photo of her waterfront home on his campaign website. Koster rarely missed a chance to point out her spotty voting record before she ran for Congress.
DelBene also was well ahead in the special one-month election in the old !st Congressional District, the seat vacated by Jay Inslee, candidate for governor.