What was expected to be the state's marquee race lived up to its billing Tuesday, as early returns had first-term Republican Rep. Dave Reichert narrowly fending off the Democrats' best hope for gaining a congressional seat in Washington.
With 19 percent of the projected vote counted, Reichert led political newcomer Darcy Burner 52 percent to 48 percent, a margin of about 2,400 votes, in the 8th Congressional District, which comprises the suburbs east and southeast of Seattle.
"There's still a lot of counting to do, but certainly right now the numbers look very favorable for us," Reichert said.
Burner, a 35-year-old former Microsoft project manager, put up a surprisingly tough campaign, thanks largely to efforts portraying Reichert as a rubber stamp for Bush. She said she remained "optimistic" about her chances.
The 8th District has sent only Republicans to Congress since its creation in 1980, but has trended Democratic in recent years. Burner's campaign echoed her party's national call for change.
Another Democrat, biologist and rancher Peter Goldmark, made a run at freshman Republican Cathy McMorris in the 5th District in Eastern Washington, but with 36 percent of the projected vote in, McMorris had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead: 55 percent to 45 percent.
The state's seven other incumbent representatives - Republican Doc Hastings, chairman of the House ethics committee, and six Democrats - faced little opposition.
Elsewhere in the state:
1st District, covering Seattle's northern suburbs: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee won re-election against Republican Larry Ishmael, a business consultant from Redmond making his first run for Congress. With 18 percent of the vote counted, Inslee took 70 percent to Ishmael's 30 percent.
2nd District, from Everett north to Canada: Incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen defeated Republican challenger Doug Roulstone, a retired Navy captain. With 30 percent of the vote counted, Larsen had 66 percent to Roulstone's 34 percent.
4th District, central Washington: Hastings defeated Democrat Richard Wright, who owns a chain of physical therapy clinics and finished third in the primary two years ago. With 29Â percent of the vote counted, Hastings had 57Â percent to Wright's 43 percent.
6th District, Pierce County and the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas: Longtime incumbent Democrat Norm Dicks of Bremerton had no trouble beating Republican Doug Cloud for the second straight time. Dicks had 71Â percent of the vote to 29 percent for Cloud, with 32 percent counted.
7th District, most of Seattle: Rep. Jim McDermott, a liberal firebrand in a safe urban district, easily won a 10th term against Republican newcomer Steve Beren. McDermott had 78 percent with 11 percent of the vote counted; Beren had 18 percent; independent Linnea Noreen had 4 percent.