SEATTLE — Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell clinched re-election Tuesday night, easily defeating Republican newcomer Michael Baumgartner to win her third term.
In early returns, Cantwell led Baumgartner 60 percent to 40 percent.
“We focused on jobs and jobs and jobs and people responded well to that,” Cantwell told The Associated Press after a victory speech in Seattle. “We have a lot to do. A lot of people don’t want to see stalemate. We need to get to work on economic issues.”
Baumgartner conceded shortly after early results came in. In a statement, he said that he knew beating Cantwell was going to be “an uphill battle.”
Cantwell, Washington state’s junior senator, led from the start, amassing a war chest worth more than $8 million that dwarfed Baumgartner’s effort, which added up to about $1 million.
Baumgartner is a first-term state senator from the Spokane area who previously worked as a foreign policy consultant.
Reached by phone, Baumgartner said he felt his campaign dispersed its resources across the state as well as possible despite being heavily outspent. “The campaign shouldn’t be about who has the most money, it should be about who has the best ideas,” Baumgartner said.
Cantwell said Tuesday night that her priority will be “getting more aviation jobs in Washington state,” adding that voters signaled they want more bipartisanship.
“I’m not going back to the United States Senate to salute stalemate. I’m going back there to put in economic policies to get our people back to work,” she said.
In Washington’s most hotly contested congressional race, Democrat Suzan DelBene defeated Republican John Koster.
In early returns, DelBene led by 54 percent to 46 percent for Koster in the race for the open 1st Congressional District seat.
Spanning from the suburbs of King County to the Canadian border in Whatcom County, the sprawling, redrawn district was seen as a toss-up throughout the election.
DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, defeated a group of Democrats in the primary to face Koster, who faced little opposition from his own party. DelBene used more than $2 million of her own money in the campaign.
DelBene also won a separate contest with Koster to represent the old district for a month. The seat became open after Democrat Jay Inslee resigned from his congressional seat to run for governor. DelBene will represent the district as it was drawn before re-districting changed it.
After the 2010 Census, Washington gained a congressional seat and all congressional districts were re-drawn. The state now has 10 congressional representatives.
In other parts of the state, state Sen. Derek Kilmer is heading to Congress to replace retiring Rep. Norm Dicks. Kilmer, a Democrat, won Dicks’ endorsement early on for the seat that covers most of the Olympic Peninsula.
In the state’s newest district, long-time Democratic politician Denny Heck clinched the seat over Republican Dick Muri, a Pierce County councilman. The 10th District covers sections of Mason, Thurston and Pierce counties.
Republican incumbents Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Eastern Washington and Jaime Herrera Beutler in southwest Washington also won re-election.
Democratic incumbents Rick Larsen, Adam Smith and Jim McDermott from the Puget Sound region were also re-elected.