Republican hopes of flipping Washington’s swing 1st Congressional District faded Tuesday as first term Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene defeated Republican challenger Pedro Celis.
DelBene led on election night with about 55 percent of the vote, to 45 percent for Celis.
Although hundreds of thousands of votes remain to be counted, Celis said, “it It looks like she has enough votes that she is likely to be re-elected.” He called to congratulate her.
With the state’s eight other congressional incumbents headed for re-election, it appeared the only new face in the state’s D.C. delegation will hail from Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District
In that race — easily the most heated of the fall — former state agriculture director Dan Newhouse led Clint Didier, the former NFL player and tea party favorite. The race remained close, with Newhouse taking 52 percent to Didier’s 48 percent.
The 1st District contest between two ex-Microsofties wasn’t so close as DelBene racked up an 11,300-vote lead Tuesday night, putting her ahead of her 2012 pace. The Democratic win ran counter to a national GOP wave that saw the party poised to take control of the U.S. Senate.
Celis, a retired top Microsoft engineer who immigrated from Mexico, never seemed to recover from nearly losing in the August primary to a virtually unknown GOP rival. He campaigned on cuttting federal spending and replacing the Affordable Care Act, but was criticized as short on details even by some ideological allies.
Never appearing particularly threatened, DelBene, a former Microsoft marketing executive, stuck to a generic Democratic script and played up her incumbent power. She ran TV ads boasting of securing $16 million to repair a collapsed bridge over the Skagit River.
In the 4th District, Didier and Newhouse emerged from a 12-person primary to face off in the state’s first-ever general-election matchup between two members of the same political party.
Despite sharing a Republican affiliation, the two offered voters a big contrast.
Didier raged against Democrats — and establishment Republicans — for failing the nation, painting an apocalyptic view of America sunk by debt, illegal immigration and creeping United Nations control.
Newhouse struck a more moderate tone, appealing to independents and even Democrats by stressing he’d be a calmer conservative voice who’d reach across the aisle. He was boosted by the endorsement of retiring 4th District Rep. Doc Hastings.
Incumbents sailed to re-election in the state’s other congressional races.
That included Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, who won a 14th term; Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, elected to a 10th term; and Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, who won his sixth.
No U.S. House incumbent has lost in the state since 1998.
Tuesday’s vote count can be viewed here.