Voters on Tuesday chose a pair of Democrats as Pierce Countys newest members of a U.S. House that remains in Republican hands.
Gig Harbor state Sen. Derek Kilmer will replace 18-term U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks. Republican Bill Driscoll of Tacoma staked a $1 million chunk of his timber-industry fortune on his first try at political office, but conceded to Kilmer after early returns showed him far behind.
Olympias Denny Heck will be the first person to represent Washington states newest congressional district after heavily outspending and handily dispatching Republican Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri of Steilacoom, who also conceded.
If theres one message coming out of this years election, its break the gridlock, sit down like adults and solve the problems, Heck said.
Kilmer said his goal is the same as his predecessors: to get people back to work. Dicks has an extraordinary legacy, probably the most significant of which is his focus on jobs, and thats a legacy I hope to continue, Kilmer said.
The new 10th District was awarded after the 2010 Census, which showed the state had added more than 1 million people in a decade. It was drawn to favor Democrats stretching from Shelton to Olympia and north to include Lakewood, Puyallup and University Place.
The 6th District, Democrat Dicks stronghold on either side of the Narrows bridges, includes most of Tacoma and the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.
Pierce Countys two other congressmen, Republican Dave Reichert of Auburn and Democrat Adam Smith of Bellevue, were easily fending off challenges in their new districts, while Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell was headed toward a third term. All three built up fundraising war chests that dwarfed those of their opponents Karen Porterfield of Issaquah, Jim Postma of Steilacoom and state Sen. Michael Baumgartner of Spokane, respectively.
Farther north in the states most competitive House contest, the 1st District, Democrat Suzan DelBene was leading Republican John Koster. The winner will replace Democrat Jay Inslee, who resigned to run for governor.
Kilmer, vice president at the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, focused on job growth. He pointed to his eight years in the Legislature, where he worked on public-works spending.
The Princeton- and Oxford-educated Kilmer positioned himself in commercials as a champion for federal student loans, Social Security and Medicare, and criticized GOP proposals for cuts. Driscoll, a descendant of the founder of Weyerhaeuser, highlighted his Marine Corps service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and his socially liberal and business-friendly views.
Driscoll said Tuesday that Kilmer has my complete support.
I told him if theres anything I can do for him and his family he should not hesitate to ask, Driscoll said.
The two raised more than $1.6 million each.
Heck had far more resources than Muri, collecting more than $1.9 million or eight times Muris total. National Republicans, who largely stayed out of Washington this year despite three races without incumbents, didnt spend independently to help Muri.
Muri said he was glad the two ran a positive race.
Heck, a former state House member-turned-entrepreneur-turned-candidate, ran on a theme to Give Congress Heck, and his humorous television ads poked fun at a squabbling, gridlocked "Tea Party Congress" rather than mention Muri.
"Guess what? Hes going to be part of the Tea Party Congress, said Muri, who took heart from Republicans keeping the House. People still want limited government.
Heck backed President Obamas health reforms, and his job-creation agenda included funds for higher education, job training and tax incentives to encourage onshore manufacturing and clean-energy jobs.