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Ready, set, match! Fall congressional contests taking shape thanks to today’s election

Back in May, more than fifty individuals filed paperwork (either in person, by mail, or electronically) to formally declare their candidacies for United States House of Representatives in one of Washington’s ten congressional districts.

By the time the August winnowing election is certified later this month, only twenty will be left, with nearly half of them incumbents.

In a couple of districts, it’s not clear who will be moving on to November just yet, but in the other eight, it seems pretty safe to project the winners.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect this November.

1st District: Suzan DelBene versus a Republican to be determined

In the 1st District, Suzan DelBene is having a great night. She’s winning more votes than all her opponents combined and has an outright majority, despite having six opponents (more than any other incumbent). It’s not clear yet who her opponent will be – surprisingly, the candidate recruited by the Republican establishment to challenge her (Pedro Celis) is running behind a Republican with no credibility or name ID. This post offers a more in-depth look at the results in the 1st.

2nd District: Rick Larsen versus B.J. Guillot

Incumbent Rick Larsen did not face a strong challenge in this election. He has 56.52% of the vote and will face second-place finisher B.J. Guillot, a Republican. Independent Mike Lapointe garnered over 11% of the vote – a decent showing for an independent with no money, but still dead last in this three-man race.

3rd District: Jaime Herrera-Beutler versus Bob Dingethal

Two-term Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera-Beutler, as expected, will face Democrat Bob Dingethal in November. Dingethal is an accomplished businessman and community leader with deep roots in the district; he has been waging a vigorous campaign. Herrera-Beutler had one other challenger, Republican Michael Delavar, who will not be moving on. He’s got over 12% of the vote.

4th District: Clint Didier (likely) versus Dan Newhouse (likely)

Doc Hastings’ decision to retire in the 4th District yielded an unusual open seat contest this year that attracted twelve candidates, most of them Republicans. Sadly, because Washington uses a stupid, deeply flawed system for selecting candidates called “Top Two” in place of a real primary, it is possible to have two candidates from the same party competing against each other through November, leaving voters of different political persuasions totally unrepresented on the ballot.

Up till now, runoffs between candidates from the same party had been confined to legislative and local partisan races. But now it appears that for the first time, a major political party (the Democratic Party) will have no candidate on the ballot in a federal race, as former football player Clint Didier and farmer Dan Newhouse (both Republicans) stand head and shoulders above the rest of the field, which includes two Hispanic Democrats and three independents.

5th District: Cathy McMorris Rodgers versus Joe Pakootas

The results out of Washington’s other ultraconservative district are much better for Democrats, who will be sending up dynamic tribal leader Joe Pakootas to face incumbent Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers. McMorris Rodgers is so far capturing 51.7% of the vote. Pakootas has 28.9% of the vote, with the remainder going to another Republican and an independent. The 5th is not an easy place for a Democrat to compete in, so Pakootas’ showing is certainly respectable. He’ll have to run a very unconventional and powerful campaign to put the seat in play.

6th District: Derek Kilmer versus Marty McClendon

In the 6th, freshman Democrat Derek Kilmer is in excellent shape. Impressively, he’s capturing around 58.9% of the vote. Of his three opponents, only one managed to attract any significant support: Republican Marty McClendon, who will be Kilmer’s general election opponent. It doesn’t appear that Kilmer is going to have much difficulty at all holding the seat that formerly belonged to Norm Dicks.

7th District: Jim McDermott versus Craig Keller (likely)

No one identifying as a Democrat filed against Jim McDermott this year, which has resulted in a fairly lopsided contest. Jim (who critics sometimes refer to as Mr. Congressman for Life) is utterly dominating his challengers with a whopping 76% of the vote. All of his challengers are stuck in the single digits. The second highest vote getter is currently Republican Craig Keller, who will probably get to move on to the general election and get crushed by an even bigger margin.

8th District: Dave Reichert versus Jason Ritchie

Lazy Republican incumbent Dave Reichert faced two Democrats in the winnowing election: Jason Ritchie and Keith Arnold. Arnold did little campaigning and isn’t mustering more than 8.7%; he’s the third place finisher, so he’s out. Ritchie has been trying to build a credible campaign with the support of Democratic activists throughout the district, and had no problem winning the second place spot. But he isn’t cracking thirty percent in a district that voted for President Obama, which is concerning to Democrats. Reichert, who faced no Republican opposition, is coasting along in first place with more than 62% of the vote.

9th District: Adam Smith versus Doug Basler

While Democratic incumbent Adam Smith isn’t managing to put up Jim McDermott-like numbers in the 9th District, he does have a commanding 63.14% of the vote. His closest rival is Republican Doug Basler, who outdistanced Democrat Don Rivers and independent Mark Greene with 28.22%. The 9th is considered Safe Democratic, like the 7th, and Smith probably won’t have any trouble defending it.

10th District: Denny Heck versus Joyce McDonald

Freshman Democrat Denny Heck was able to put some distance between himself and Republican Joyce McDonald as the night wore on, but he still has the narrowest lead of any of the state’s Democratic incumbents. Republican Joyce McDonald will be his general election opponent. She represents the Republican Party’s best chance of taking a seat in Congress in this state. She’s managed to score 41.44% of the vote so far, which is quite impressive, and will likely be the beneficiary of big Republican money in the weeks to come. Two other candidates, Sam Wright and Jennifer Ferguson, barely registered and won’t be moving on.