OLYMPIA, Wash. – Republican Rep. Dave Reichert survived a strong challenge from Democratic newcomer Darcy Burner, winning a second term Monday amid a Democratic wave that swept his party out of power in the House.
Reichert said Burner called to congratulate him on a second term, and the two shared their frustrations about the slow pace of Washington's largely vote-by-mail elections.
"Finally, something we agree on," Reichert told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Washington, D.C.
Burner did not publicly concede Monday night, but called a news conference Tuesday in Bellevue.
Her loss ended the Democrats' best hope for claiming a Republican House seat in this left-leaning state. Burner turned heads early by building a large campaign treasury, but in the end she could not capitalize on a strong tide in favor of Democratic candidates.
New returns posted Monday night put Reichert's lead at 4,727 votes, or 51.1 percent to Burner's 48.9 percent. Overall, 208,225 votes had been counted in the race.
"I just felt confident from the very beginning that people would recognize that I've done a good job back here representing people," Reichert, 56, told the AP.
"Not everyone's going to agree with what I do. That comes with the territory. But the key is listening, and being in touch with the community," he said.
Reichert, a former King County sheriff known for helping to capture the Green River Killer, narrowly won his first congressional term in 2004 and immediately became a target for Democrats. It was the first political campaign for Burner, 35, a former Microsoft Corp. manager.
In winning his second close race, Reichert returns to a Congress now dominated by Democrats. He had been chairman of the House subcommittee on emergency preparedness, and said Monday he hoped to return as its ranking Republican.
Reichert also said wins such as his, amid strong victories for Democrats across the country, showed that the GOP should heed the voices of centrist Republicans.
"It's time for Republicans to recognize that they haven't been listening very good, and we need to listen," Reichert told the AP. "I think it's an opportunity for us who come from these districts that have a diverse constituency to have a louder voice."
The 8th District was seen as classic swing territory: Voters there have always sent a Republican to Congress, but favored Democrats John Kerry for president and Patty Murray for Senate in 2004.
In Monday's count, Reichert pulled slightly ahead of Burner in King County, putting the race out of reach. The vast majority of voters cast ballots by mail, and they count as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 7. Vote counting was to continue in the district for at least two more days.