What to Watch for in Washington's House Primaries
The short answer is that there's not much to watch in Washington state tonight. Only the 1st District has meaningful drama. The 6th District, vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Norm Dicks, is fairly strong (though not completely solid) Democratic territory, but the same strengths that cleared other Democrats out for state Sen. Derek Kilmer should carry him through November no matter what. The new 10th District, meanwhile, has been known colloquially in Washington as the "Denny district" since it was drawn, and Denny Heck's victory there is close to a foregone conclusion.
But even though there is just one race to keep close tabs on, the 1st District -- which stretches from Seattle to the Canadian border -- has plenty to catch the eye. With Democratic former Rep. Jay Inslee resigning to run for governor and the district seriously altered by redistricting, five Democrats have lined up for the all-party primary. Republican county commissioner John Koster, who has run and lost twice in the old 2nd District, is the only Republican and will advance to the general on the back of that unified vote bloc. The question is which Democrat will oppose him.
Darcy Burner, a progressive favorite who ran and lost twice against GOP Rep. Dave Reichert in 2006 and 2008, was the early Democratic favorite in name recognition and support, according to both public and private polling. But the idea of Burner in the general election ruffled state Democrats, who feared that Burner's strident politics would jeopardize their chances of holding an otherwise safer seat. Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen and Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire almost-simultaneously endorsed Suzan DelBene for the seat instead, after which DelBene poured over $2.3 million of her own money into the contest.
DelBene also lost to Reichert, but in a very close race against the GOP wave of 2010, and her self-funding ability was an obvious plus. But as DelBene climbed in the polls and saturated the 1st District's airwaves, she began to draw fire from all sides. Former state legislator and candidate Laura Ruderman's mother notoriously financed a super PAC that hit DelBene via mail and TV, while Burner also attacked DelBene in a late mailer.