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.
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