Cantwell wins U.S. Senate seat in recount

Gorton’s defeat may mean 50-50 tie


Associated Press

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Maria Cantwell, a dotcom millionaire who financed her own campaign, narrowly defeated veteran Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, results of a recount confirmed Friday. Her victory creates a potential 50-50 tie in the U.S. Senate.

Cantwell, a former one-term U.S. House member waging her first statewide campaign, edged the 18-year incumbent by 2,229 votes out of nearly 2.5 million cast.

"I am honored to have won such a close election," the Democrat said Friday evening in a victory speech minutes after Gorton sent her a handwritten concession letter. His campaign said the senator will not seek another recount.

"It’s over," said Gorton spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman.

Cantwell, 42, called it a "long-awaited victory" and immediately sent out an olive branch to the 34 counties — out of 39 statewide — that voted for Gorton. She pledged "One Washington" and said she will visit each county annually and will work to expand the red-hot Puget Sound economy to all regions.

Cantwell won the race in King County, which includes heavily Democratic Seattle, rolling up a margin of more than 150,000 votes. King on Friday was the last county to report results of the automatic recount required under state law because the vote ended within one-half of 1 percentage point.

It was America’s last unsettled Senate race from the Nov. 7 general election.

Gorton congratulated Cantwell on Friday evening, adding, "It is a dubious honor to come in second in what must have been the closest major election in our state’s history."

Gorton answered no questions Friday.

"This is the end of one chapter in his life. He’s looking forward to many more," Bergman said, adding Gorton was not ruling out a possible Cabinet post in the Bush administration The loss was crushing for the senator and his army of volunteers, Bergman said.

"It is absolutely, incredibly difficult for everyone, especially him," she said.

Cantwell becomes the 13th woman in the Senate, a record number. She will join freshmen at orientation sessions next week.

Her election gives Washington two women senators for the first time, joining California and Maine. Fellow Democrat Patty Murray is in her second term.

Cantwell’s victory draws Senate Democrats into a tie with the Republicans, leading her party to demand a shared power arrangement. It is the first Senate tie since 1880.

If Dick Cheney becomes vice president, he would break ties for the Republicans as the presiding officer of the Senate. If Sen. Joseph Lieberman wins the vice presidency, Connecticut’s Republican governor would likely appoint a Republican to his vacated seat, giving the GOP a 51-49 advantage.

The recount widened the gap between Cantwell and Gorton by just 276 votes. Cantwell ended up with 48.73 percent to Gorton’s 48.64 percent.

Twenty years ago, Gorton knocked off the state’s powerful senior senator, Warren Magnuson, then chairman of the Appropriations Committee and president pro tempore of the Senate. Gorton, then 52 to Magnuson’s 75, used a generational appeal for voters to elect the state’s "next great senator" and give him time to build seniority.

This time, it was 72-year-old Gorton ousted by a woman who was born the year he entered politics 42 years ago in 1958.

Cantwell didn’t directly raise the age issue, but called Gorton a man who offered "19th-century solutions to 21st-century problems." She ran as someone who understands the high-tech industry.

She also benefited from Gorton’s long list of enemies, including Indian tribes, environmentalists, trial lawyers and abortion-rights activists. They all ran campaigns against the senator, though Cantwell had sworn off "soft money" help from outsiders and refused contributions from political action committees.

Gorton had won six statewide races in Democratic-leaning Washington, three terms as attorney general and three as U.S. senator. His one previous loss was his first Senate re-election bid, in 1986 to Democrat Brock Adams. He came back with a narrow victory two years later and was re-elected easily in the GOP landslide of 1994.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Lake Serene in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service)
How will climate change affect you? New tool gives an educated guess

The Climate Vulnerability Tool outlines climate hazards in Snohomish County — and it may help direct resources.

A cliff above the Pilchuck River shows signs of erosion Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Lake Connor Park sits atop the cliff. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Hill erodes in Lake Connor Park, forcing residents of 8 lots to vacate

The park has just under 1,500 members east of Lake Stevens. The riverside hill usually loses 18 inches a year. But it was more this year.

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
Small plane lost power in crash north of Paine Field, flight club says

The pilot reportedly called 911, stuck in a tree, on Friday. The sole occupant survived “without a scratch,” the president of Puget Sound Flyers said.

Ken Florczak, president of the five-member board at Sherwood Village Mobile Home community on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How Mill Creek mobile home residents bought the land under their feet

At Sherwood Village, residents are now homeowners. They pay a bit more each month to keep developers from buying their property.

A Cessna 150 crashed north of Paine Field on Friday evening, Feb. 16, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. The pilot survived without serious injury. (Courtesy of Richard Newman.)
‘I’m stuck in the trees’: 911 call recounts plane crash near Paine Field

Asad Ali was coming in for a landing in a Cessna 150 when he crashed into woods south of Mukilteo. Then he called 911 — for 48 minutes.

The Snohomish County Jail is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Jails had ‘immunity’ to lawsuits over overdoses — so her family settled

In 2018, Denise Huffer died of a methamphetamine overdose in her cell at the Snohomish County Jail. Her family took a $50,000 deal in February.

A heart shaped hand tossed pepperoni pizza, left, and eight-corner Detroit style veggie pizza, right, from Jet’s Pizza on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, at the Everett Herald newsroom in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Detroit-original Jet’s Pizza lands in WA with thick-crust pies and more

The national chain’s Lynnwood joint is the first in the state. The pizza is tasty — hot or cold. And it makes good date food.

Providence nurses picket in front of the hospital during the first day of their planned five-day strike Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Months after strike, nurses reach contract with Providence Everett

The new contract, 10 months in the making, includes bonuses and extra pay to counterbalance chronic understaffing.

on Wednesday February 21, 2024 in Snohomish. (Photo provided by Snohomish County Fire District #4)
Woman dies after suspected DUI crash on US 2 near Snohomish

A driver crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a minivan Wednesday night, killing a Monroe woman, troopers said.

Police: Arlington man who shot at house detained after standoff

Deputies said the man barricaded himself for five hours early Thursday in his house in the 23200 block of 115th Avenue NE.

Lyla Anderson and others sign a petition to save the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Too much Everett to throw away’? Gazebo’s impending end stirs emotions

A demolition date hasn’t been confirmed for the Clark Park gazebo, but city staff said it’s too expensive to save. “The decision’s been made.”

A person turns in their ballot at a ballot box located near the Edmonds Library in Edmonds, Washington on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Presidential primary ballots en route to Snohomish County voters

Voters must indicate a party preference to vote for a candidate. Ballots are due March 12.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.