Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray opened a nearly 50,000 advantage over Dino Rossi today and has defeated the Republican for her fourth term.
Several media outlets, including the Seattle Times, are calling the race in Murray’s favor with more than 1.7 million ballots counted out of an expected 2.4 million. The Office of Secretary of State web site shows Murray with 916,347 and Rossi with 867,853 votes.
Murray gives Democrats a 53 seat majority. She leads in nine of the state’s 39 counties including King, Snohomish, Thurston, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Jefferson, Kitsap, San Juan and Whatcom.
Rossi benefited from large amounts of independent money spent anonymously by national groups that attacked Murray with television.
We'll have to wait for concession and victory speeches.
UPDATE on the original 5:35 p.m. post: Rossi has conceded and he released this written statement:
I ran for the Senate because I believe we need a basic course correction from where Washington, D.C. has been taking us and to make sure this country is as free, as strong and as prosperous in the future as it has been in the past to preserve the best of America for future generations.
That was a message that found a very receptive audience all across this state, though not quite receptive enough.
We're sending at least one new person, maybe two, to Congress to represent Washington State. We elected a host of new people to the state legislature – all on the message of controlling spending and helping the private sector grow, saying no to government overreach and confronting some very difficult challenges in front of us.
You've heard me say during this campaign that the problems we face are too big for one political party. They are, and I can say that with absolute certainty.
It is my hope that the new House and Senate will address them seriously, responsibly, and in a bipartisan way. I hope the President and Senate Democrats will join the new House majority to face these problems head on rather than leaving them for the next Congress or the next generation.
My hope going forward is that our representatives in Washington, D.C. will be thinking about how an issue affects Bellevue, Bellingham or Bingen, not the D.C. Beltway.
I hope they will be thinking about the small business owners struggling to stay open and the people that work there who are trying to pay their mortgage and feed their kids. I hope the things that are done in D.C. make it easier for these folks, not harder.
The lesson I leave you with is one we learned as kids: we're all in this together. If Washington, D.C. doesn't act to help the economy grow and solve this massive spending and debt, it’s going to hurt us all. It won't distinguish by political party.
Let me close with one more heartfelt thank you to the people of our state. Thank you for letting me have an honest, straightforward discussion with you about our future. God bless you, our country, and this wonderful state we call home.