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It’s a big day for incumbents

McMorris Rodgers, Cantwell tally well, but foes undaunted

Incumbents representing Washington and Eastern Washington in Congress advanced easily in Tuesday’s primary to the general election, but their November opponents say they’re confident that the races aren’t over.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, won 54 percent of the vote in a four-way primary race to retain her seat representing Washington’s 5th Congressional District. She will face Democrat Rich Cowan, the founder of North by Northwest Productions, who took 35 percent of the vote. McMorris Rodgers and Cowan eliminated two long-shot candidates.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Edmonds, had a commanding lead for her re-election bid, too. She will face second-place finisher Michael Baumgartner, a Republican state senator from Spokane. Cantwell took 56 percent of Tuesday’s tally statewide, compared with Baumgartner’s 30 percent. Baumgartner even lost to Cantwell in Spokane County. Six lesser-known candidates were eliminated.

In between interviews at local TV studios Tuesday night, McMorris Rodgers promised to continue campaigning on jobs and curbing the “out-of-control spending of Congress.”

“I’m thankful of the trust that voters continue to put in me,” she said. “You don’t ever take it for granted, and we’re going to continue to campaign hard.”

In a primary election night speech to the Spokane County Democratic Party at Hamilton Studio in West Central Spokane, Cowan noted that McMorris Rodgers won 63 percent of the vote in her primary two years ago. This time, she won by less even after spending more money.

“If we all come together, we’ll win this race,” said Cowan, who said that he will challenge McMorris Rodgers to 10 debates, one in each county in the district. “We’re taking back this district.”

Baumgartner, speaking from the state GOP’s primary night party in Bellevue, had a message similar to Cowan’s: He was outspent by his opponent, and the dynamics will change for the November race as more people and the media start paying attention.

“It’s clear that people think Washington, D.C., is broken,” Baumgartner said. “We’ll eventually get that opportunity to make that case and we’ll do well.”

Attempts made to reach Cantwell were unsuccessful.

“We’re humbled that more than half of the voters who cast primary ballots statewide supported Senator Cantwell based on her record of tireless advocacy for Washington state jobs,” said Cantwell spokesman Kelly Steele in a statement released by Cantwell’s campaign late Tuesday.

This story was corrected on Aug. 8, 2012 to correct a quote that was attributed to the wrong person.

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