Rep. Suzan DelBene defeats GOP rival Celis
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, easily defeated Republican challenger Pedro Celis in the 1st Congressional District, while Republican Dan Newhouse was leading tea-party favorite Clint Didier in the 4th District.
Seattle Times political reporter
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.
“As you can see from the early results we have so far, we’re going to win,” DelBene told supporters at an election night party in Woodinville. She praised the 1st District’s political diversity, saying “we’d all be better off if more representatives in Congress represented districts like ours.”
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 — 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 was 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 11,400-vote lead Tuesday night. The Democratic win ran counter to a national GOP wave that saw the party take control of the U.S. Senate.
Although thousands of votes remain to be counted, Celis said “it looks like she has enough votes that she is likely to be re-elected.”
Celis, a retired top Microsoft engineer who immigrated from Mexico, never seemed to recover from nearly losing the primary to a virtually unknown GOP rival. He campaigned on cutting 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.
In the 4th District, Didier and Newhouse emerged from a 12-person primary to face off in the state’s first-ever congressional general-election matchup between two members of the same 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. He was boosted by the endorsement of retiring 4th District Rep. Doc Hastings.
In a statement Tuesday night, Newhouse said he was “very happy” with the vote. He vowed to represent Didier’s supporters, despite their differences.
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.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org