Democrat Maria Cantwell is heading back to Washington, D.C., for another term in the U.S. Senate.
Cantwell easily topped former Washington Republican Chairwoman Susan Hutchison in Tuesday’s midterm election, pulling down about 60 percent of the vote in early returns.
Faced with a smaller number of Democrats in the Senate, but a Democratic majority in the House, Cantwell said that might actually help some items like infrastructure projects, which have passed the upper chamber but run into roadblocks from conservative Republicans across the Rotunda.
But it was hard to predict what President Donald Trump’s reaction would be to a Democratic House, she added.
“I’ve tried to work across the aisle,” she said Tuesday night. “I do think that’s what the public wants – to work together to get things done.”
Cantwell, 60, was seeking her fourth term in the Senate, where she serves on the Energy and Natural Resources; Commerce; Finance; and Indian Affairs committees – not high-profile panels in recent years but places where she’s been critical of oil companies for rising gasoline prices and fought for the ability of Washington taxpayers to deduct their sales taxes the way residents of other states deduct their local income taxes.
She narrowly defeated Republican Sen. Slade Gorton in 2000, but had two easy re-elections, beating attorney Mike McGavick by 17 percentage points in 2006 and Spokane legislator Michael Baumgartner by 21 points in 2012.
Hutchison, 64, is a former TV journalist and anchor in Seattle who later served as the executive of a Seattle-based foundation and held positions on several civic boards. She easily outdistanced the rest of the primary field of 28 Cantwell challengers with more than 10 times the vote of the third-place finisher, far-right activist Joey Gipson.
But a problem for Hutchison in that primary vote – with a wide range of candidates of almost every imaginable political stripe – was the fact Cantwell pulled in more than twice as many votes.
Hutchison tried to argue that Cantwell was too liberal and too out of touch with Washington voters. An ardent supporter of President Donald Trump in a state where his disapproval ratings are high, she argued she’d support his policies that were good for Washington and talk to the president when they weren’t.
With advantages in campaign money and name recognition, Cantwell stressed her support for the Affordable Care Act and opposition to the Trump tax cuts.
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