DelBene could be sworn in before results are final

Democrat Suzan DelBene may be casting votes in Congress before the results of this week’s election are final.

DelBene is cruising toward a victory over Republican John Koster in the special election to fill the vacancy created when Jay Inslee resigned his 1st Congressional District seat to run for governor.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Sam Reed informed the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives the “unofficial results” show DelBene was elected as the representative.

“To the best of our knowledge and belief at this time, there is no contest to this election,” he wrote.

Koster, who could not be reached for comment, has not conceded in the special election.

DelBene was beating Koster by a margin of 60.1 percent to 39.9 percent in the contest conducted in the district’s former boundaries of Kitsap, King and Snohomish counties.

Reed’s letter starts a formal process that could culminate in a decision by the House parliamentarian to swear in DelBene when the House reconvenes next week rather than wait until Washington’s election is certified in December.

DelBene’s campaign advisers asked Reed for the letter, partly because the congressional district offices formally closed Nov. 5 and won’t reopen until the winner of the special election is seated.

Viet Shelton, DelBene’s communications director, said it is important to reopen the office so constituent casework can be handled and residents are represented when votes on critical issues arise in the lame duck session of Congress.

DelBene, who is also beating Koster in their higher-profile duel for a full two-year term, is set to head east.

“She’s absolutely ready,” Shelton said. “She knew when she declared for this office that the person who won the special election would have to serve right away.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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