Three-term Sen. Maria Cantwell is headed for a general election showdown against former GOP State Chairwoman Susan Hutchison after the two finished far ahead of the field in Tuesday’s Washington state primary.
At a campaign gathering in Redmond with U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and State Sen. Manka Dhingra, Cantwell thanked voters and campaign workers and launched into a travelogue of cities around the state where she’d been to campaign in the past week.
“The results tonight showed it worked,” said Cantwell, who finished the night with more than 55 percent of the vote and almost twice as many votes as second-place Hutchison. She said she planned to continue to work for affordable health care, affordable housing and training workers for the jobs of the future.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing,” Cantwell said, adding she’d be in Spokane on Wednesday.
The 29-person race was one of the most crowded in state history, with the most candidates ever running against a sitting U.S. senator in Washington.
Hutchison topped a baker’s dozen of Republican candidates. Despite splitting the Republican vote so many ways, Hutchison finished the night ahead of Cantwell in Lincoln, Grant and Lewis counties. Cantwell topped the race in the state’s other counties. She won nearly 53 percent of the vote in Spokane County.
The GOP field included perennial candidate GoodSpaceGuy and California businessman Roque De La Fuente, who is running for the Senate in seven states.
In early returns, GoodSpaceGuy was polling ahead of De La Fuente, but both were receiving less than 1 percent of the vote. This is De La Fuente’s second loss, after finishing in California with only 2 percent of the vote; he has six more chances, from Hawaii to Delaware, between now and September.
Cantwell had four Democratic challengers. The ballot also offered voters the choice of a Libertarian, a Green Party candidate, five independents and an array of candidates who formed their own parties with names like StandUpAmerica and Human Rights in an effort to stand out from the crowd.
Cantwell, 59, is in her third term in the U.S. Senate, where she serves as the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and sits on the Commerce, Finance, Indian Affairs and Small Business committees.
She served in the state Legislature, then won a U.S. House seat in 1992, dubbed “The Year of the Woman” for the number of female candidates who won office. But she was ousted from the House in 1994 during the Republican tidal wave, and worked for RealNetworks until entering the 2000 Senate race against incumbent Republican Slade Gorton, which she won by about 2,200 votes out of some 2.3 million cast. Her re-election campaigns against former Safeco executive Mike McGavick in 2006 and state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, in 2012 were much easier.
Hutchison, 64, is a former state Republican Party chairwoman and longtime Seattle television news reporter who has served on Seattle-area boards for charities and nonprofits. She served on the King County Independent Task Force on Elections and ran unsuccessfully for county executive in 2009.