Cantwell was leading 28 primary-election challengers in Tuesday returns with 55 percent, while Hutchison was running second with 24 percent.

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U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell posted a commanding victory in Washington state’s primary election and will face former state Republican Party chair Susan Hutchison in November.

Cantwell was leading 28 challengers in Tuesday returns with 55 percent of the vote, while Hutchison was running a distant second with 24 percent.

As the top two vote-getters, the three-term Democrat and the onetime TV news anchor will advance to the general election.

Cantwell, 59, had never faced so many primary opponents. At an election-night party in Redmond, she described crisscrossing the state in recent days on a get-out-the-vote tour.

Former State Republican Party chair Susan Hutchison speaks at the State Republican Party headquarters after primary election results showed that she will face U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell in the general election. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

2018 Primary Election

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“I think the results tonight show that it worked,” Cantwell said, as supporters whooped and clapped.

Hutchison, 64, had argued that the sheer number of challengers showed a lack of support for the incumbent. She led in only three counties Tuesday.

“People want to see a change after 18 years,” she said at an election-night party in Bellevue, trying to link Cantwell to tax hikes in Seattle.

A former tech executive with RealNetworks, Cantwell first won election to the Senate in 2000.

Ahead of the primary, she pointed to her work on wildfire-spending reforms and on a $3 billion boost for the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

Like most Senate Democrats, Cantwell has largely resisted the agenda of President Donald Trump and majority Republicans.

Hutchison supported Trump in 2016, making national news when she slammed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as a “traitor to the party” for failing to endorse the GOP nominee in a Republican National Convention speech.

In a phone interview, Cantwell said she plans to campaign this fall on issues like health care. In a speech, Hutchison signaled she intends to bring the president up in the race, saying she would be better able than her opponent to talk with Trump.

Hutchison entered this year’s contest just before the May 18 filing deadline and has raised more than $540,000. Cantwell has raised nearly $10 million.

Joey Gibson, who ran in the primary as a Republican and whose pro-Trump Patriot Prayer group has drawn far-right allies to rallies, took only 2 percent.