The two women representing Spokane in Congress who faced challenges to their seats won return trips to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers once again defeated Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas and will retain the Congressional seat she’s held since 2005.
Sen. Patty Murray will serve a fifth term after defeating her GOP opponent, Chris Vance.
“Even though this has been a tough election, I can say I am proud to be an American,” a triumphant McMorris Rodgers told a crowd of supporters at the downtown Davenport Grand Hotel on Tuesday night.
McMorris Rodgers collected 58 percent of the votes counted through Tuesday night to Pakootas’ 42 percent. That margin was slightly less than when the congresswoman defeated Pakootas in 2014. She won Spokane County with 56 percent of votes counted.
Both candidates had used the turmoil at the top of the ticket in an attempt to dissuade voters from backing their opponent.
In the final few weeks of the campaign, Pakootas ratcheted up his attacks on the congresswoman, releasing television ads and billboards tying the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives to Donald Trump.
McMorris Rodgers never fully distanced herself from the Republican nominee, claiming that he would bring a positive outsider perspective to the White House. That perspective seemed to be shared throughout the country, as Trump surprised many with a strong showing that gave him a lead late Tuesday.
Meanwhile the congresswoman called on Pakootas to drop his support of Hillary Clinton, who McMorris Rodgers said had a history of deceiving the American people.
McMorris Rodgers’ campaign focused on what she called bipartisan legislative victories, expanding Medicare coverage for those needing eye-tracking technology to communicate and pushing improvement to existing hydropower projects.
As the incumbent, McMorris Rodgers held a strong fundraising lead over Pakootas, raising about $10 for every $1 the Democratic challenger brought in. At last count, McMorris Rodgers had raised $3 million to about $315,000 raised by Pakootas.
McMorris Rodgers is the 28th-longest serving woman in the current House of Representatives, and the fifth-longest tenured female Republican in the House.
Murray wins re-election battle
Murray’s victory Tuesday makes her the state’s third-longest serving member in the history of the Senate.
Murray, a Democrat who is a former state legislator and former kindergarten teacher, was enroute to victory over Vance, a former state Republican chairman, legislator and King County councilman. Murray won more than 60 percent of the ballots counted through Tuesday.
Murray had campaigned on remaining close to state residents despite her years in Washington, D.C., pointing to her trips home almost every weekend and work on veterans, children’s and women’s issues.
Vance tried to paint Murray as a D.C. insider who was part of the partisan gridlock that has stalled legislation in Congress. That argument was undercut by Murray’s work on a budget deal with Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and on changes to No Child Left Behind with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
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