Jayapal becomes the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress.
Pramila Jayapal defeated Brady Walkinshaw Tuesday in Washington’s super-liberal 7th Congressional District.
By winning the seat occupied since 1988 by retiring U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Jayapal becomes the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress.
The 52-year-old state senator — an immigrant-rights activist who scored an endorsement from Bernie Sanders last spring — captured 57 percent of the vote, as of early Wednesday, in the Seattle-area clash featuring two Democrats.
The battle between Jayapal and Walkinshaw, a 32-year-old state representative, was the only competitive congressional contest in Washington.
Both candidates referenced the U.S. presidential contest Tuesday night. Jayapal said the result of her race meant the 7th District could be “a light in the darkness” if Donald Trump were to emerge triumphant.
“If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense as of tomorrow,” she told supporters, many of them in their 20s, who packed Optimism Brewing in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. “We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”
Jayapal said her “small divide” with Walkinshaw was “nothing compared to the huge chasm that divides our nation right now.”
Walkinshaw said he and Jayapal share “a profound amount in common and as we look where our country may be headed, that’s where my concerns are.”
In other districts, incumbents were all coasting to re-election, many of them having outspent their challengers by at least 10 to 1.
Jayapal finished first among nine candidates in August’s top-two primary election with 42 percent. Walkinshaw, who would have been Washington’s first openly gay congressperson, narrowly finished second with 21 percent.
Their general-election race started slowly, overshadowed by others in a wild political season partly because the candidates agreed on most issues.
Both said they’d push for a nationwide $15-an-hour minimum wage and a ban on assault weapons. And both said they’d oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership pact in its existing form.
The race picked up in October as Jayapal and Walkinshaw debated state Initiative 732, a carbon-tax measure, and launched combative television ads.
When Whatcom County-reared Walkinshaw called Jayapal ineffective and criticized her for missing state Legislature votes, the Indian immigrant and some of her supporters slammed him for “going negative” and compared him to Trump.
While Jayapal promised voters she’d be a bold voice for progressive causes in Washington, D.C., Walkinshaw said he’d be better at working across the aisle.
Neither candidate was in Olympia long before running for Congress. Jayapal was elected in 2014.
Walkinshaw was appointed in 2013.
1st Congressional District
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, was easily winning re-election to her third full term in Tuesday returns. The former Microsoft executive had 57 percent to 43 percent for her challenger, Republican Robert Sutherland, a retired biochemist.
2nd Congressional District
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, was well before his challenger, Republican Marc Hennemann, an Air Force veteran and retired teacher, who raised no money for the race. Larsen, seeking his ninth term, had 65 percent to Hennemann’s 35 percent.
3rd Congressional District
In Southwest Washington, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, was leading state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, 59 percent to 41 percent.
4th Congressional District
In a reprise of their 2014 contest, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R- Sunnyside, was leading Republican Clint Didier, a former NFL player and outspoken conservative. Newhouse edged Didier for an open seat two years ago by just 2 percentage points, but he was easily outdistancing the challenger Tuesday 58 percent to 42 percent.
5th Congressional District
In the state’s most eastern district, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was edging Democrat Joe Pakootas, CEO of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, was picking up 58 percent to Pakootas’ 42 percent.
6th Congressional District
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, was winning election to a third term against political newcomer Todd Bloom. Kilmer had 62 percent to 38 percent for Bloom, a Navy veteran and tax attorney.
8th Congressional District
Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, was outdistancing former sportscaster Tony Ventrella, a Democrat, for his seventh term. Reichert, the former King County sheriff, picked up 58 percent to Ventrella’s 42 percent. Ventrella dropped out during the primary, too late for his name to be removed from the ballot, and finished first among Democratic challengers.
9th Congressional District
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, was easily winning election to his 11th term against conservative radio talk-show host Doug Basler. Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, had 74 percent to 26 percent for Basler, who challenged Smith unsuccessfully in 2014.
10th Congressional District
Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, was coasting to victory over Republican Jim Postma. Heck, a former chief of staff to Gov. Booth Gardner, had 60 percent to 40 percent for Postma.