Larsen, Cantwell leading easily

As expected, Democratic Congressmen Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott and Sen. Maria Cantwell are advancing to the November general election with relative ease.

In his bid for a seventh term representing the 2nd Congressional District, Larsen, 47, of Everett, will face Mukilteo Republican Dan Matthews, 62.

Larsen won 43,041 votes or 59.54 percent to Matthews’ 19,500 or 26.98 percent of the vote, according to early returns from Snohomish, Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s office.

In the 7th Congressional District, McDermott, running for his 13th term, faced a half dozen opponents who have no experience with political office. He had 69.5 percent of the approximately 87,000 votes tallied as of 9 p.m. in Snohomish and King counties.

His nearest competitor, Republican-leaning independent Ron Bemis, had about 15.8 percent of the initial vote count. That still put Bemis nearly 10 percentage points ahead of his next-closest competitor, Democratic tax attorney Andrew Hughes, who had about 5.8 percent.

Bemis said he was happy to see some voters paying attention to his message of fiscal responsibility, even though much of the media coverage focused on McDermott and Hughes, two Democrats with lots of money to spend.

“I’m pleased that I have three months ahead so that people get to know me,” Bemis said.

To that end, Bemis said he intends to challenge McDermott to at least three televised debates so voters can, “see, hear and vote on a candidate on the basis of comparison and merit, not on name familiarity and big money.”

McDermott, 75, is a former Navy psychiatrist. He won his congressional seat in 1988. McDermott won his most recent general election in 2010 with 84 percent of the vote against a Republican opponent.

Other Democrats in the race were: Hughes, 30; Amazon product manager Charles Allen, 31; and King County Metro inspector Don Rivers, 56. Bemis, 61, has worked for more than three decades as a litigator. He says McDermott is too willing to spend taxpayer money, even as the country faces serious debt problems.Also in the race are Republican Scott Sutherland, 49, a Fred Meyer grocery employee, and perennial candidate Goodspaceguy. All of the candidates live in Seattle.

For Larsen, a former Snohomish County councilman, the primary election results are perhaps the highest he has ever received.

“My message of jobs, transportation, education and protecting Medicare are more appealing than the tea party Republican politics Matthews wants to bring to Congress,” Larsen said. “We don’t need the tea party.”

Matthews said he is honored to have received “an expression of support and encouragement” from voters.

“We’ve got a great group of people spreading the message of the veteran, the Boeing guy, the family man and the concerned citizen,” said Matthews, referring to himself. “I am committed to bringing the issues before the people instead of partisan rhetoric. I plan to challenge Larsen to eight debates to give the people a chance to make a choice. I am very encouraged with the support tonight”

Larsen said he expects more than eight groups in the district will offer candidate forums and debates during the next three months.

“I want to be supportive of the community groups and their forums instead of making up our own debates,” Larsen said.

Matthews is a former Shoreline School Board member, an Air Force veteran, a retired airline pilot and currently works as a Boeing pilot instructor. So far, Matthews has raised only about a quarter of the amount of money in Larsen’s arsenal.

Matthews agrees with Larsen that the biggest issue in the campaign is the economy and jobs. They also agree that the proposed coal export operation at Cherry Point in Whatcom County could provide some of those needed jobs.

After redistricting, the new 2nd District still takes in all of Island and San Juan counties, but now it’s primarily the I-5 corridor from Mountlake Terrace to Bellingham.

Defeated in the primary race were Republicans John Shoop of Mount Vernon and Eli Olson of Marysville and independent candidates Mike Lapointe of Everett and Glen Johnson of Conway.

Cantwell’s opponent on the November ballot is Republican Michael Baumgartner. Baumgartner, 36, of Spokane, acknowledged before the primary that he has an uphill battle against Cantwell, 53, of Edmonds. Early returns from the state show that Cantwell got 445,072 or 55.78 percent of the vote. Baumgartner received 241,294 or 30.24 percent.

Baumgartner won the most expensive state Senate race in history in 2010 and almost immediately decided to make a longshot bid for the U.S. Senate. Cantwell is running for her third term in Washington, D.C.

The Senate candidates who did not advance to the general election are Dr. Art Coday of Shoreline, Chuck Jackson of Snohomish, Glen “Stocky” Stockwell of Ritzville, and perennial candidate Mike the Mover, his legal name.

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