News

1st District congressional race seen as up for grabs

Trudi Inslee, right, and Sen. Patty Murray, center, campaign for Suzan DelBene in Bothell on Oct. 21. DelBene is running for the vacant 1st Congressional District seat against John Koster.  - Matt Phelps
Trudi Inslee, right, and Sen. Patty Murray, center, campaign for Suzan DelBene in Bothell on Oct. 21. DelBene is running for the vacant 1st Congressional District seat against John Koster.
— image credit: Matt Phelps

The 2010 United States Census resulted in a shift of 12 congressional seats across 18 states, including Washington. But the new 1st Congressional District, which includes Medina, Clyde Hill and the Points communities, is one of the most watched races in the country.

The race pits Republican John Koster, who is in his third term on the Snohomish County Council from Arlington, against Democrat Suzan DelBene, a former Microsoft executive who lives in Medina.

The district stretches from the Canadian border down to Medina and covers 6,600 square miles. To put that into perspective, it is nearly as big as New Jersey at 8,722 square miles and bigger than Delaware, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia combined (4,245 square miles).

But it is not the size that has caught the eye of national news media such as the New York Times and political party leaders, such as former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The New York Times recently called the district one of the most evenly divided in the nation.

The old 1st District fell constantly into the Democrats column. But a SurveyUSA poll for KING 5 News in Seattle released Oct. 23, showed a dead heat with DelBene edging Koster 47-44 percent. But those numbers are within the margin of error.

With the race so close, some heavy hitters have visited the state in support of each candidate.

DelBene has had national Democratic leaders such as Pelosi, Congressman Steny Hoyer, who has represented Maryland for 30 years and South Carolina Congressman Jim Cyburn on the campaign trail. Koster has had Christie, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, talk radio host and son of President Ronald Reagan, Michael Reagan, along with Congressman Dave Reichert campaigning for him.

“It really is one of the most evenly divided in the nation and that is great,” said DelBene. “We need more districts like this one.”

The campaign rally for DelBene also included the wife of former 1st Congressional District Rep. Jay Inslee, who vacated the seat to run for Governor. Inslee won re-election in 2010 with 57 percent of the vote against challenger James Watkins.

Because Inslee vacated the seat, 1st District voters will get to vote for DelBene or Koster twice during the general election on Nov. 6. The first is to fill the final few months of Inslee’s term and the second is to fill the seat for the next congressional term.

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