Published August 07, 2012
Olympia's Heck, Pierce County's Muri to face off in 10th DistrictBRAD SHANNON
Republican Dick Muri defeated fellow Pierce County Council member Stan Flemming in the first vote in Washington’s new 10th Congressional District. But both trailed Democrat Denny Heck in early primary vote returns. Heck, a wealthy investor and businessman, was pulling in more than 40 percent of the vote, and fellow Democrat Jennifer Ferguson was in fourth place – giving the Democrats more than half of the ballots cast. Progressive Independent Sue Gunn and independent Steve Hannon were not a major factor in their first-time campaigns. “We’re encouraged by it but there are 91 days to go. We feel like the basic message has been affirmed, talking about policies that strengthen the middle class,” Heck said. “It’s what’s on voters’ minds.’’ Redistricting carved out the new district as a Democrat-leaning territory that runs from Shelton and Olympia to Puyallup and University Place. The district is one of three open seats in Washington that both parties believe they have a shot at in the larger national battle over control of the U.S. House. Top issues in the 10th district were jobs, the welfare of returning military personnel at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, President Barack Obama’s health-reform law, the role of money in campaigns, and partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C. “It looks like we’re going to be in the finals,” Muri said. “I think it comes down to I’ve run for Congress before in 2010. I have name recognition and a better reputation especially here in Pierce County.” Muri and Flemming touted their military careers and both vowed to repeal the Obamacare health-care law. But Muri and Flemming spent most of their campaign jabbing at each other, and neither ever caught fire with donors. Flemming, whose campaign did not return a call, reported nearly a quarter-million dollars raised at one point. But more than $200,000 of it was borrowed money – most in the form of unconventional loans from a Beverly Hills lender. Muri did circulate a mailer late last week touting his record on the Pierce County Council on budget and environmental issues. In another South Sound race on the southern edge of Thurston County, first-term Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Camas breezed to a November runoff against Democrat Jon T. Haugen in the 3rd Congressional District, which until this year’s redistricting had included Olympia. The Republican raised nearly $1.3 million, and neither Haugen nor independent Norma Jean Stevens of Ocean Park have reported raising any money. Herrera Beutler had a 16-point lead over Haugen in mid-evening vote tallies. Haugen, an airline pilot who also had a 24-year military career, was not embraced by his own party. Skeptical of his party affiliation, delegates at the state Democratic Party decided not to endorse any 3rd district candidate during their early-summer convention in Seattle, and state party chairman Dwight Pelz later said his biggest mistake of the election was not recruiting a viable Democrat. In other early Evergreen State congressional returns Tuesday: • In the newly configured 9th, Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Tacoma was on his way to a November showdown with Republican Jim Postma, a retired rocket scientist from Steilacoom who finished ahead of three other challengers. Redistricting moved the district north into Renton and Bellevue and made it more liberal than when it extended to Lacey and included Joint Base Lewis-McChord. • Republican Bill Driscoll of Tacoma was on his way to a November runoff against Democratic state Sen. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor in the 6th district, which is being vacated by the retirement of 18-term Democratic Rep. Norm Dicks. Kilmer and Driscoll each raised close to $900,000 and Driscoll aired cable television ads in the Tacoma area to further his campaign, which he launched less than four months ago.