Democrats hoping for a blue wave this midterm election celebrated Tuesday after the first night of ballot returns showed a lead for Kim Schrier, who could be on her way to becoming the first Democrat to hold an Eighth Congressional House seat.
Schrier, an Issaquah pediatrician and first-time candidate, is leading over Rossi with 53 percent of votes, by 6 percentage points, in the contentious Eighth Congressional District race—a seat that will ultimately help determine the balance of power in Congress.
National results showed early on that the Democratic Party flipped the House, while Republicans are expecting to secure further control over the Senate. At the Bellevue Hilton on Tuesday night, Schrier's supporters hugged and screamed in excitement as results showed a wider gap than expected between her and Rossi.
Late ballot counts will determine the winner, but Schrier's campaign is expecting later votes to shift in her favor—giving the Democratic candidate a promising lead in what was supposed to be a razor-thin race.
"To fight for issues that really matter for working families, it is time to bring some much needed common sense to the other Washington," Schrier said in what sounded like a victory speech addressing her supporters. "I will hold town halls, you will know where I will stand. I will listen to you and I will be your champion in Congress."
This is Rossi's third time running for office after failed campaigns for governor and U.S. senator against Patty Murray. Rossi's campaign didn't respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
Three once safe Republican House seats are contested with tough Democratic challengers this year. Tuesday night's returns showed Southwest Washington's congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler leading her opponent, Carolyn Long, with a narrow 52.3 percent.
Eastern Washington's Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a senior ranking Republican member in the House, led her challenger, Lisa Brown, with 56 percent of votes.
Washington state also passed major reforms to the prosecution of deadly force (Initiative 940) and sweeping gun regulations (Initiative 1639), both issues that state Democratic officials have been trying to tackle now for years.
Environmental activists didn't see the same support. Voters rejected the carbon fee initiative, which would have made Washington the first to try to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change through a state measure.
Democratic U.S. senator Maria Cantwell and U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal handily won their re-election races. U.S. representative Adam Smith, who for the first time faced a Democratic challenger, also won re-election for a 12th term.
Updated 11:29pm on November 6, 2018, to include results for the carbon fee initiative.