Republican political prodigy Cathy McMorris cruised to a surprisingly easy victory over millionaire Democrat Donald Barbieri on Tuesday as the GOP held on to the open U.S. House seat centered on Spokane.
Incumbent U.S. House members — one Republican and six Democrats — all won re-election in Washington on Tuesday. In the race for an open seat in the 8th District, Republican Dave Reichert was leading Democrat Dave Ross.
McMorris, 35, a state House representative since her mid-20s, led Barbieri 60 percent to 40 percent with 90 percent of precincts reporting. She won in all counties of the district.
"We have a lot of work to do and we have some very important issues facing this district, and I want to do it with President George W. Bush," McMorris told cheering supporters. "Thank God for President George W. Bush."
"I am honored to stand before you tonight," said McMorris, who dispatched two solid primary challengers with relative ease, and won big on Tuesday despite being from rural Stevens County and being outspent by a well-known Spokane business tycoon with a long civic resume.
McMorris attributed her win to her decade in the state House.
"The people knew what they were getting when they voted for me," McMorris said. Barbieri was making his first run for office.
The campaign featured plenty of negative advertising as both national parties spent heavily on what appeared to be a competitive contest.
Barbieri, 58, urged his supporters to continue to work on access to health care, jobs and other issues that still face the 5th District.
"We want to pull people together now and see if we can work on community issues," he told supporters in the ballroom of the Ridpath Hotel, one of many hotels owned by his WestCoast Hospitality Corp.
Barbieri said he did not anticipate running for office again.
He was trying to reclaim the 5th District seat famously lost by Democratic U.S. House Speaker Tom Foley a decade ago.
The seat was open for the first time in 62 years. Republican U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, who ousted Foley, ran for the U.S. Senate but lost to incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.
In the 8th District, Reichert led Ross 52 percent to 47 percent with 52 percent of precincts reporting.
Reichert is the King County sheriff celebrated for catching the Green River Killer, while Ross is a radio talk show host. The seat, representing the affluent eastern suburbs of Seattle, was held by retiring Rep. Jennifer Dunn and has never been won by a Democrat.
Like much of the nation, Washington's congressional districts are drawn to produce safe seats for incumbents, with the result that all incumbents cruised to victory.
In those contests:
—1st District, mostly Seattle's northern suburbs: Democrat Jay Inslee beat Republican businessman Randy Eastwood for a fourth term.
—2nd District, from Everett north to Canada: Democrat Rick Larsen beat Republican Suzanne Sinclair to claim his third term.
—3rd District, from Olympia south to Oregon: Democrat Brian Baird beat Republican Thomas Crowson for a fourth term.
—4th District, central Washington from Canada to Oregon: Republican Doc Hastings beat Tri-Cities civic leader Sandy Matheson for his sixth term.
—6th District, Pierce County and the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas: Democrat Norm Dicks beat Republican Doug Cloud to claim a 15th term.
—7th District, most of Seattle: Democrat Jim McDermott beat Republican Carol Cassady for a ninth term.
—9th District, suburbs in King, Pierce and Thurston counties: Democrat Adam Smith beat Republican Paul Lord for his fifth term.