Koster, DelBene leading in 1st District race

Republican John Koster and Democrat Suzan DelBene emerged as the frontrunners Tuesday in the hotly contested and nationally watched contest for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District.

Koster, a Snohomish County councilman and the only GOP candidate in the race, enjoyed a commanding lead in the seven-person field with 43.7 percent or 33,100 votes, in results compiled by the Secretary of State.

“I’m pleased with the numbers. I think that’s where we needed to be,” Koster said at his election night party in Everett. “We’ll take a deep breath tomorrow and we’ll go forward with our game plan.”

DelBene, who spent $2.3 million of her own money in the race, is making plans to focus on November after Democrat Darcy Burner, who is in third, conceded. DelBene collected 23.3 percent, or 17,663 votes, followed by Burner with 14.6 percent or 11,051 votes.

“Darcy Burner gave me a call and congratulated me on my success,” DelBene said. “We’re moving forward for the general election.”

Rounding out the field were Democrats Laura Ruderman with 7.1 percent, Steve Hobbs with 6.8 percent and Darshan Rauniyar with 2.5 percent and Larry Ishmael, an independent, with 2 percent.

Ballot counting continues Wednesday with the latest results getting released in the afternoon.

Koster and DelBene will compete for a two-year term in a district considered the most evenly split between Democrats and Republicans in the state, if not the nation.

The winner will succeed Democrat Jay Inslee, who decided to run for governor rather than seek re-election to Congress.

The candidate who wins in November will represent a district which stretches from Redmond and Kirkland in King County north to the Canadian border. It passes through mostly new territory of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties marked by small towns and farmland and Republicans.

In Snohomish County, it includes the cities of Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Mill Creek, Bothell, Monroe, Snohomish and Sultan.

Meanwhile, Koster and DelBene will also duel in the special election to serve one month in Congress to finish Inslee’s term.

In that race with 11 candidates, Koster received 34.8 percent and DelBene 25.1 percent in initial returns. Burner is in third with 15.2 percent. Democratic Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan is fifth with 3.4 percent behind Ruderman with 9.6 percent.

Tuesday’s results didn’t surprise Koster, long the favorite in the regular election because he was the only Republican candidate. Polling throughout the election showed the 60-year-old Arlington area resident racking up a double-digit advantage on the others.

That’s kept everybody’s attention, including his, trained on the Democrats to see which of them would advance.

Burner, 41, of Carnation, led in the polls for months but DelBene, 50, of Medina, drew even around the time ballots went out and her spending on television ads and mailers kicked into high gear.

“If you spend enough, that’s the results you get,” Koster said, adding he expects her to keep writing checks to her campaign. “We don’t need to match them dollar for dollar to beat them.”

DelBene, a former vice president at Microsoft who self-financed an unsuccessful challenge of Republican Congressman Rep. Dave Reichert in 2010, wasn’t apologizing for her personal spending.

“We worked hard to get our message out to voters,” she said.

She also was noncommittal whether she’d continue to invest heavily in her bid for Congress.

“That hasn’t been something I’ve decided,” she said.

Tuesday’s results seem to indicate DelBene didn’t suffer any damage from a series of attacks launched against her by an independent political action committee, Progress for Washington, whose chief funder is Ruderman’s mother.

Nor did it appear Burner’s charge that DelBene was using her personal wealth to try to buy the seat carried weight with voters.

“I think focusing on the issues and focusing on the positive message really made a difference,” she said.

Burner, the most left-leaning of the Democratic candidates, could not match DelBene in fundraising. She lacked funds for an ad campaign on television but did send out magazine-like mailers to a targeted group of voters.

Ruderman, 41, of Kirkland, is a former state lawmaker who mounted a visible campaign with television ads running throughout the three weeks of voting. She also benefitted from a number of supportive mailers sent out by her mother’s independent political committee.

Hobbs, a 42-year-old state senator from Lake Stevens, campaigned as a moderate Democrat willing to team with Republicans on some matters. He racked up a number of impressive individual endorsements but also had troubles raising enough money to mount an effective advertising campaign.

Rauniyar, 42, a native of Nepal, is making his first run for political office. He campaigned as an “outsider” and “non-professional” candidate who could bring a fresh perspective the others lack.

Ishmael, 59, of Kirkland, is making his third bid for Congress. Running as a Republican, he lost to Inslee in 2006 and 2008 in what’s soon to become the old 1st District.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
9-hour Edmonds standoff with knife-wielding man ends in arrest

The man reportedly threatened to kill his family. Police spent hours trying to get him to come outside.

Security footage depicting an armed robbery at Buds Garage in Everett on Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. (Contributed photo)
Everett pot shop robbed twice; others targeted in recent months

Armed robbers have hit Buds Garage off Everett Avenue twice since December.

Police: Everett man left family member with life-threatening injuries

An Everett man, 23, was in jail on $100,000 bail after being accused of confronting women and attacking a relative.

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

Cassandra Lopez-Shaw
Snohomish County judge accused of ‘needlessly’ exposing staff to COVID

Adam Cornell argues the incident reinforces a need to suspend jury trials, as omicron wreaks havoc.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman who lit her own Edmonds doll store on fire gets house arrest

Connie Bigelow, 54, was sentenced Friday in federal court for lighting her business on fire to collect insurance money.

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is no longer required reading in Mukilteo

The school board on Monday voted to remove it from the list for ninth-graders, at the urging of teachers and students.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

Most Read