Freshman congressmen Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer lead in first re-election bids

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck was showing the strength of incumbency in early primary election returns Tuesday as the Olympia Democrat captured just over half of the votes cast.

Republican Joyce McDonald, a two-term member of the Pierce County Council who lives in Puyallup, was running a strong second in a four-candidate field while losing heavily in Heck’s home turf, Thurston County.

The 10th District takes in Olympia and runs north to Shelton, Puyallup and University Place, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Results in the 10th echoed early-voting results from around the state in other congressional races. All nine of Washington’s incumbents seeking re-election — including Derek Kilmer, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith — led their challengers.

Heck and McDonald will move on to the Nov. 4 general election. The primary ends the campaigns of Jennifer Gigi Ferguson, a University Place resident running as an Independent this year, and Sam Wright, an Olympia man who ran under the banner of the Human Rights Party that he founded; votes for each were in single digits.

“We feel good, especially when we look around the state. It looks like a pretty tough night for Democrats (in legislative races),’’ Heck said, adding that his team had worked hard in Congress the past year and a half and he hoped people have taken note of it. He said he hadn’t sent mailers or used television ads despite raising more than $1.3 million.

“It does not look as good as I would hope,’’ McDonald said bluntly. “I think for spending $33,000, we did very, very well. But in order to get more money from people who give to congressional races, it would have to be closer than that. So it doesn’t look good for (getting) that local money.’’

Another freshman Democrat congressman, Kilmer, was far ahead of Republican opponent Marty McClendon despite two additional challengers on Kilmer’s left.

Gig Harbor residents Kilmer and McClendon will face off in the general election after few voters chose Green Party candidate Douglas Milholland of Port Townsend or independent William “Greybeard” McPherson of Port Angeles. The 6th District runs from Tacoma to the Olympia Peninsula.

Five-term Auburn Republican Reichert also showed well, as expected. In a decision about which Democrat should face Reichert in November in the Cascades-straddling 8th District, voters were choosing Issaquah business owner Jason Ritchie over Auburn accounting technician Keith Arnold.

Smith, a Bellevue Democrat, dominated in the heavily Democratic 9th District. A Kent Republican, Doug Basler, emerged from a field of potential matchups for Smith. Basler, a producer of television commercials, bested Seattle Democrat Don Rivers and Mark Greene of Federal Way, who identifies with the Citizens Party.