Congress may be unpopular, but in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District, five-term incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was not with voters casting ballots in Tuesday’s primary.
McMorris Rodgers, a member of the GOP leadership in the House, finished the evening with more than half the votes cast in the 10-county district. She’ll face Democrat Joe Pakootas, the chief executive officer of the Colville Tribe’s business operations, in the general election and said she was encouraged by the strong showing in the four-way primary.
“To me, it indicates the trust and confidence people have in my representation,” she said. “I’m someone a lot of people can relate to.”
The job ratings for Congress overall have been low for months, but people often have a better opinion of their own representative. But earlier Tuesday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll said Americans are more dissatisfied with their member of Congress than ever. The survey said 51 percent reported they either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of the way their representative is handling his or her job.
McMorris Rodgers had about 51.7 percent of the votes after county elections offices shut down for the night. Most will count more ballots on Wednesday, and results will be official on Aug. 19.
Pakootas, who finished the night with about 29 percent of the vote, acknowledged he has a tough challenge ahead but declared himself excited and energized by surviving the primary.
“I think it will be easier to run head-to-head” where voters can compare their records on job creation and economic views, he said.
One challenge, he added, will be to get more Democrats to the polls. Outside of Spokane, many county and legislative offices are held by Republicans who have no or only token Democratic opposition.
Two other challengers were eliminated. Independent Dave Wilson, who built and then sold a computer training school, tried to appeal to the disaffected voters unhappy with both parties in general and Congress in particular. Republican Tom Horne, a volunteer firefighter and retired engineer, ran to the right of McMorris Rodgers, criticizing Republican leadership in the House and calling for more challenges to President Obama.
In Central Washington’s wild primary for an open seat, a pair of Republicans will compete in the state’s first all-GOP congressional general election race. Eltopia farmer and former NFL player Clint Didier, a Tea Party favorite, has a commanding lead in the 12-person field with about 30 percent of the vote. He was almost 3,000 votes ahead of former state Ag Director Dan Newhouse, of Yakima, a mainstream Republican. With all counties reporting election night tallies, Newhouse has twice the votes of the Estakio Beltran, a Democrat in third place who was slightly ahead of Janea Holmquist, a Moses Lake legislator who gave up her Senate seat to run for Congress.
The race drew an even dozen candidates – eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents. The Republicans all ran as conservatives who believe in smaller government, lower taxes and gun rights. In resumes and approaches to government, they represented a wide spectrum from mainstream to Tea Party.
Under the state’s top two primary system, the candidates with the most and second-most votes advance to the general election regardless of party.