OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Former Microsoft executive Suzan DelBene emerged from a caustic and costly primary campaign Tuesday, vanquishing a slate of other Democrats with a flood of advertisements funded in part by her own wealth.
DelBene's victory allows her to now transition to the November election, where she will face Republican John Koster, who easily won the top-two primary race as the only GOP candidate in the 1st District field. The four other candidates divided the remainder of the votes, with political activist Darcy Burner coming in third during returns Tuesday night.
The district had such a rancorous battle among its Democrats that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray called on the candidates for calm. The seat is already ranked as one of the most competitive races in the country.
Washington's 1st Congressional District was carved during the redistricting process to be a tossup for Republicans and Democrats. It stretches from eastern King County areas such as the wealthy enclave of Medina all the way to the northern border.
DelBene, who lost in a 2010 bid for Congress, has spent some $2.3 million in the race while putting about as much of her own money into the race. That far outpaced fellow Democrats such as Burner and former state Rep. Laura Ruderman, who each spent about $470,000.
Combined, the candidates have already spent close to $4 million, making it the seventh most expensive U.S. House race in the country, according to numbers compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The 1st District is an open seat this year due to the departure of Jay Inslee, a Democrat now running for governor. That will complicate things for some voters, as the election also will decide who will finish Inslee's term representing the old 1st District boundaries, which cover Seattle's northern suburbs. In the separate primary for the remaining month of Inslee's term, Koster and DelBene were again the winners.
Candidates, not wanting a disadvantage in the full-term race, have entered both contests -- leaving some people to see the same person twice on the ballot. Koster and DelBene also held leads Tuesday night for the short-term seat.
All of the state's 10 congressional districts are on the ballot. But besides the 1st District, only two U.S. House races have no incumbent.
In the 10th District, a new district anchored around Olympia, TVW founder Denny Heck and Pierce County councilman Dick Muri held leads on Tuesday night.
In the 6th District, now open because of retiring Rep. Norm Dicks, Democratic state Sen. Derek Kilmer held a lead over businessman Bill Driscoll, a Republican.