The latest round of ballot counting on Thursday pushed Republican candidate Pedro Celis into second place in the 1st Congressional District primary, making it more likely the favored candidate of the Republican Party establishment will advance to the November general election.
Celis, a former Microsoft engineer, had been in third place in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s totals, worrying some Republican party leaders who’d counted on him to mount a quality challenge to first-term U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina.
But after more ballots were tallied Thursday, Celis moved 840 votes ahead of little-known Republican rival Robert Sutherland, a retired biochemist from Granite Falls.
The 1st District stretches from the Northeast King County suburbs of Redmond and Kirkland to the Canadian border, including most of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. In 2010 redistricting it was drawn as the state’s only real swing district, divided nearly equally between Democratic and Republican leaning areas.
DelBene drew about 51 percent of the vote in the primary, with four Republicans and two others splitting the rest of the vote. As of Thursday night, Celis had 16.4 percent and Sutherland was at 15.6 percent.
Despite the tight primary, Robert Jones, regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Celis “is in a really good spot going into the fall.” He noted DelBene’s support was barely above 50 percent – signaling her vulnerability as an incumbent.