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DelBene, Koster Advance In 1st Congressional District Race

Deborah Wang

Former Microsoft vice president, Suzan DelBene, topped a crowded field of Democrats vying for the 1st Congressional District seat. She will face Republican John Koster, a Snohomish County Council member, in the general election. Both candidates say they expect a tough fight in the fall.


As soon as the first results were posted, just after 8:00 in the evening, Republican John Koster held a commanding lead and Suzan DelBene was in a solid second place. She was far ahead of Darcy Burner, her nearest Democratic rival.

But at DelBene's primary night party in Kirkland, many people seemed shocked when she took to the stage early in the evening to make this announcement:

DelBene: "I just got off the phone with Darcy Burner and she congratulated me on our victory here."

Sound: Applause.

For DelBene it was a come–from–behind victory. Early in the campaign, Darcy Burner led the field of five Democrats in the polls. But DelBene mounted a TV advertising blitz. It was largely funded by her own money; she put more than $2 million into her campaign.

Last night, DelBene told her supporters that she expected a "tough, close race" against Republican John Koster and she gave a taste of the campaign to come.

DelBene: "And my opponent is a tea party candidate whose views, like opposing a woman's right to choose or calling for more tax cuts for the wealthy, is far too extreme for the people of the 1st Congressional District or for Washington state."

Koster was the sole Republican on the primary ballot. He says with the district so evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, he expects a "dogfight" in the fall. And he says one of his key issues will be the mounting national debt.

Koster: "I think the Democrats, I think DelBene is going to do nothing more than parrot what the Obama administration has been doing, and I think you will see proposals for more stimulus programs, and greater debt, and sooner or later you have to pay that debt and that means higher taxes at some point in time."

The stakes in this race are high for both political parties. There are three open Congressional seats in the state this year, and Republicans say the 1st District is their best chance to win one. Both national political parties are likely to spend heavily in the district and expect a flurry of negative TV ads in the weeks and months to come.

I'm Deborah Wang, KUOW News.

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