In the Seattle Times: DelBene beats Koster in race for U.S. House

11/07/12

Democrat Suzan DelBene, a multimillionaire and former Microsoft vice president, pulled off an unexpectedly decisive win in Washington state's most competitive congressional race.

She held 54 percent of votes counted Tuesday night in the 1st Congressional District, compared with Republican John Koster's 46 percent.

In Kirkland, a jubilant DelBene greeted about 150 supporters Tuesday night.

"For me this campaign always has been about standing up for working families and the middle class," she said. "We've heard from voters, and we've had a lot of strong support. Voters want someone who's going to focus on results rather than rhetoric."

DelBene, who briefly headed the state Department of Revenue, poured $2.8 million of her own money into the campaign, most of it to get through a difficult primary.

Her win over Koster came at least in part because he had so little financial support from the national Republican Party and suffered a late blow when, a week before Election Day, he was taped talking about his conservative views on abortion.

Koster, a longtime Snohomish County Council member and former dairy farmer, acknowledged Tuesday that the comments may have affected the race's outcome. The tape went viral after he used the phrase "the rape thing" while referring to abortion for pregnancies that result from rape.

Tuesday night, he did not concede, and called DelBene's tactics "underhanded" for drawing attention to his views on social issues.

"That's the sad part of this race," he said. "We wanted to talk about jobs, the economy."

This was Koster's third attempt at a congressional seat. He lost in 2000 and 2010 to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen.

DelBene, too, lost in 2010, to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert.

In Tuesday night returns, DelBene led in King County, 59 to 41 percent, and was leading in Snohomish County 52 to 48 percent. Koster led in Whatcom County while DelBene led in Skagit County.

DelBene will get an early start in Congress, since she also won the special-election race between the two candidates for a one-month stint in Congress to finish Jay Inslee's term. Inslee resigned that seat to run for governor. That will give DelBene a leg up in committee and office assignments.

DelBene entered politics to run for Congress in 2010 after a private-sector career. Though she is worth millions now, her family struggled at times when she was young after her stepdad lost his job.

She said she wanted to go to Washington, D.C., to help middle-class families and favored letting tax cuts expire for the wealthy. She supports abortion rights and gay marriage.

By Emily Heffter

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