SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D
First elected: 1992
Lay of the land: Washington has emerged as a reliably blue state in which Democrats dominate. President Barack Obama won the state by 18 percentage points. As Murray seeks a fourth term, she is far from the neophyte “mom in tennis shoes” who was first elected. Senate Democrats elected her to the fourth-highest leadership post in the chamber in 2006, and she holds key committee positions. She won her last race by 12 percentage points after raising $11.5 million.
Challengers: The race has already drawn six Republican challengers, including Chris Widener, the founder of a personal development company; Clint Didier, a Pasco farmer and former NFL player; Sean Salazar, a Mountlake Terrace chiropractor; Arthur Cody Jr., a Shoreline physician; Rodney Reiger, a small-business owner from Marysville; and Craig Williams, a Vancouver energy trader and real estate agent.
Financing: Murray had $4.6 million in the bank as of Sept. 30. Her opponents had less than $40,000 combined.
Prospects: It’s considered a safe Democratic seat, especially because Republicans have yet to attract a high-profile candidate. The GOP is trying to recruit Rep. Dave Reichert, and there has been some interest in former TV anchor Susan Hutchinson. Neither has indicated an interest.
JAY INSLEE, D-BAINBRIDGE ISLAND
First elected: 1998
Lay of the land: The 1st District includes Seattle’s northern and part of its east-side suburbs along with Bainbridge Island. Inslee has a mostly liberal voting record and has emerged as a House leader on energy issues. Inslee won with 68 percent of the vote in 2008. Obama won the district with 63 percent.
Challengers: Republicans Mathew Burke and James Watkins.
Financing: Inslee had $1 million in the bank as of Sept. 30. His two opponents: zero.
Prospects: Should be a safe Democratic seat, though things could change. Republicans are keeping an eye on it.
RICK LARSEN, D-LAKE STEVENS
First elected: 2000
Lay of the land: This district stretches north from Everett with its Boeing 747, 777 and 787 plants through the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley to Bellingham and the raspberry fields along the Canadian border. It also includes the San Juan Islands. The 2nd is a swing district, but Larsen won with 62 percent of the vote in 2008 and Obama carried it with 56 percent. Larsen is another centrist. He voted for the Bush 2001 tax cuts and against the Iraq War. He helped push a bill through creating the first wilderness area in Washington state in 20 years.
Financing: Larsen had $439,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.
Challenger: Republican Snohomish County Councilman John Koster.
Prospects: It’s generally considered a safe Democratic seat, but Republicans say it may be their best opportunity to steal a seat if things break their way. They already are making robot calls.
Lay of the land: This district covers southwestern Washington, from Olympia to Vancouver and from the Pacific to the Cascades. Though it has been represented by Democrat Brian Baird since 1998, the district is considered a toss-up now that Baird has decided not to seek re-election. Obama carried the district with 53 percent, and Baird was elected with 64 percent of the vote in 2008. Generally conservative Clark County has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
Candidates: Nine so far. Democrats include state Rep. Deb Wallace of Vancouver; state Sen. Craig Pridemore of Vancouver; Denny Heck, TVW co-founder and former chief of staff to former Gov. Booth Gardner; Cheryl Crist, an Olympia peace candidate; and Maria Rodriguez Salazar, a Hispanic activist from the Vancouver area. Republicans include state Rep. Jamie Herrera of Camas; David Castillo, an Olympia financial adviser; Washougal City Councilman Jon Russell; and David Hedrick, a former Marine from Camas.
Financing: Castillo has the most, $42,000 as of Sept. 30. Others had far less, but it’s still early in the season.
Prospects: This is the battleground, with both Republicans and Democrats willing to pour money and resources into the district. The crowded field, for now, is hard to handicap.
NORM DICKS, D-BELFAIR
First elected: 1976
Lay of the land: Stretching from the Olympic Peninsula’s rain forests to Tacoma, the 6th is considered solidly Democratic with pockets of conservatism. Obama won 57 percent of the vote, and Dicks took 67 percent in the 2008 election. Dicks is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. His voting record is mostly liberal, but he has strong national security credentials.
Challengers: No one has officially filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Financing: Dicks had $635,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.
Prospects: It would take a Republican tidal wave or a scandal to oust Dicks. Given the economy, Dicks’ “He Works For Jobs” yard signs should be going up soon.
JIM MCDERMOTT, D-SEATTLE
First elected: 1988
Lay of the land: It’s the “People’s Republic of Seattle,” and there probably couldn’t be a safer Democratic seat. A true-blue liberal, McDermott is one of the most partisan Democrats in the House, which is just fine with voters. McDermott won re-election in 2008 with 84 percent of the vote.
Challengers: One Democrat, William Hoffman III.
Financing: McDermott has $22,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.
Prospects: Will the Republicans even field a candidate?
DAVE REICHERT, R-AUBURN
First elected: 2004
Lay of the land: Stretching from the high-tech east side of Seattle to rural eastern Pierce County, the 8th has always been represented by a Republican. But Obama won the district with 57 percent of the vote, and Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry also carried the district. Analysts think it leans Republican, but barely if at all. Reichert, a former King County sheriff, has survived several hard-fought and well-funded challenges. Reichert is a usually reliable Republican vote, but he was one of a handful of GOP members who voted for the Democratic cap and trade bill.
Challengers: Two Democrats are in the race: former Microsoft vice president Suzan DelBene and Thomas Cramer.
Financing: DelBene had more money in the bank than Reichert as of Sept. 30: $615,000 versus $330,000. But nearly $500,000 of her total was her own money.
Prospects: Democrats remain focused on beating Reichert, but their best opportunity might have been in 2008, when Reichert beat another well-funded former Microsoft executive, Darcy Burner, for the second time. The wild card could be whether Republicans persuade Reichert to run for the Senate against Murray.
ADAM SMITH, D-TACOMA
First elected: 1996
Lay of the land: The state’s newest congressional district, it stretches from south King County through parts of Tacoma and includes Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. The 9th leans Democratic, but barely. Obama carried the district with 58 percent of the vote, and Smith won by 65 percent in 2008. A moderate, Smith is a usually reliable Democratic vote who shows an independent streak, especially on deficit-related issues. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he chairs the air and land forces subcommittee.
Challengers: Republicans who have filed include Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri and businessman James Postma.
Financing: Smith had $551,000 in his campaign coffers as of Sept. 30. Postma, who has been self-financing his campaign, had $135,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.
Prospects: Though Smith appears safe, some analysts say a Republican tidal wave could make this race interesting.
Les Blumenthal, staff writer