The results were very encouraging for the Democratic nominee, Rep. Jay Inslee
, who led McKenna by a 46.7 percent to 42.9 percent margin. Another Democratic candidate took 4 percent, while three other Republicans split 3.7 percent of the vote. McKenna won just 35.4 percent in King County (Seattle); as Hotline's Reid Wilson points out
, Republicans need about 40 percent of the vote there to be competitive. Inslee had trailed McKenna in public polling all year; the results suggest that the lesser-known Inslee has been coming on strong, and that Democrats are in good position to hold a gubernatorial seat that has been in their hands since 1980.
That's not all: In two lesser-publicized House races, things went the Democrats' way. The party got its favored candidate in Inslee's open House seat, the more-moderate businesswoman Suzan DelBene
. Based on last night's results, she starts as a favorite against Republican John Koster
, even though the newly-drawn district is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.
And in Republican-friendly Grand Rapids, Mich.-centered district, Democrats landed their favored candidate against freshman Rep. Justin Amash
, whose views and voting record are aligned with Paul, his political mentor. That's made him more vulnerable than most Republicans would be - in a district that Obama carried with 51 percent of the vote in 2008. Democrats are bullish about their nominee, small business owner and judge Steve Pestka
, and have released polling showing him with the potential to run competitively against the freshman.
All told, Democrats' prospects in a pivotal gubernatorial race, a battleground suburban House district improved markedly, and they now feel like they have a fighting chance in a must-win Senate race for Republicans. Not bad in a night's work.