Washington's 1st Congressional District elections, 2012

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Washington's 1st Congressional District

General Election Date
November 6, 2012

Primary Date
August 7, 2012

November 6 Election Winner:
Suzan DelBene Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election
Jay Inslee Democratic Party
Jay Inslee.jpg

Washington U.S. House Elections
District 1District 2District 3District 4District 5District 6District 7District 8District 9

2012 U.S. Senate Elections

Flag of Washington.png

The 1st Congressional District of Washington will elect its next representative to the U.S. House in 2012.

Suzan DelBene was elected.[1]

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
May 18, 2012
August 7, 2012
November 6, 2012

Primary: Washington has a top-two primary system, in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election.[2]

Voter registration: Voters were required to register to vote in the primary by July 9, 2012 or July 30, 2012 in-person for first-time voters.[3] For the general election, voter registration deadlines were October 9, 2012 and October 28, 2012 for first-time voters.[3]

See also: Washington elections, 2012

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent was Jay Inslee (D), who was first elected to the House in 1992. He did not run for re-election, as he instead retired to become a candidate in Washington's 2012 gubernatorial election.[4] A special election was held to select a representative to fill Inslee's vacated seat for just one month before the representative elected for the next term took office.

See also: Washington's 1st Congressional District special election, 2012

This was the first election which used new district maps based on 2010 Census data. Washington's 1st Congressional District is located in the northwestern portion of the state, and includes Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish counties, and part of King county.[5]


Note: Election results were added on election night as races were called. Vote totals were added after official election results had been certified. For more information about Ballotpedia's election coverage plan, click here. If you find any errors in this list, please email: Geoff Pallay.

General election candidates

Democratic Party Suzan DelBene Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party John Koster

August 7, 2012, primary results

Democratic Party Democratic candidates

Note: Marko Liias[10] and Roger Goodman[11][8] withdrew before the primary.

Republican Party Republican candidates

Note: James Watkins withdrew before the primary.[13][12]

Independent Third party candidates

Election results

General election

U.S. House, Washington District 1 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngSuzan DelBene 53.9% 177,025
     Republican John Koster 46.1% 151,187
Total Votes 328,212
Source: Washington Secretary of State "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"


Washington's top-two primary system meant voters chose from the full field of candidates on August 7, 2012, and the top two vote-getters went on to the general election, regardless of their party. Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) retired to pursue the governorship, so the 1st District race was in the spotlight in the 2012 election season.[14]

As of late July 2012, polling had Republican John Koster leading his challengers, five Democrats and an independent. The same data showed Democratic candidate Suzan DelBene overtaking Darcy Burner for the second slot, thanks largely to a recent TV ad blitz from DelBene.[14]

Early on, Burner, a progressive activist, capitalized on anti-wealthy sentiment to pull ahead of former Microsoft executive Suzan DelBene.[15] $2.3 million of DelBene's campaign funds came from her own bank account, although she raised $500,000 of independent funds as well.[14] Burner said DelBene is trying to buy the election, but DelBene, who is worth $53 million, said she is joining her supporters in investing in her campaign.[16][14]

At a July 2012 event, the candidates had an opportunity to name their highest priority. Burner raised concerns about Super PACs and voiced support of the Affordable Care Act. DelBene said she would focus on job creation. Darshan Rauniyar and Steve Hobbs promised to bring a new face to politics. Laura Ruderman stressed greater health care access. The only Republican in the race, Koster emphasized the need for smaller government.[17]

Adding another layer of financial interest was a Super PAC run by one candidate's parent. Laura Ruderman's mother ran Progress for Washington,[14] which by July 31 had spent almost $200,000 against DelBene.[18]

Race background

Washington's 1st District was included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List," which identified districts that the organization specifically targeted to flip from Republican to Democratic control.[19]

Republican challenger John Koster was included in the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns program. The program highlighted challengers who represented the GOP's best chances to pick up congressional seats in the general election.[20]


Washington's 1st was considered to be Leaning Democratic according to the New York Times race ratings. The retirement of Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee opened up the district to a possible Republican take-over. Combined with a district that is less Democratic due to redistricting, Republican John Koster had a shot at picking up the seat in November.[21]

This race was considered competitive.[22][7][23]

Blue vs. red

Possible race ratings are:

     Solid Democratic
     Likely Democratic
     Lean Democratic


     Lean Republican
     Likely Republican
     Solid Republican

     Washington's 1st District is a Democratic-leaning swing district.

In May 2012, the Cook Political Report rated the district as leaning Democratic,[22] as did Sabato's Crystal Ball.[23]

Impact of redistricting

See also: Redistricting in Washington

Washington gained a congressional seat following the 2010 Census. The newly redrawn 1st District runs from Redmond to Canada, encompassing the bulk of King, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties.[24]

The 1st District was re-drawn after the 2010 Census. The new district is composed of the following percentages of voters of the old congressional districts.[25][26]

District partisanship

FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012 study

See also: FairVote's Monopoly Politics 2012

In 2012, FairVote did a study on partisanship in the congressional districts, giving each a percentage ranking (D/R) based on the new 2012 maps and comparing that to the old 2010 maps. Washington's 1st District became more balanced because of redistricting.[27]

  • 2012: 53D / 47R
  • 2010: 59D / 41R

Cook Political Report's PVI

See also: Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index

In 2012, Cook Political Report released its updated figures on the Partisan Voter Index, which measured each congressional district's partisanship relative to the rest of the country. Washington's 1st Congressional District had a PVI of D+3, which was the 164th most Democratic district in the country. In 2008, this district was won by Barack Obama (D), 57-43 percent over John McCain (R). In 2004, John Kerry (D) won the district 51-49 percent over George W. Bush (R).[28]

District history

Candidate ballot access
Ballot Access Requirements Final.jpg

Find detailed information on ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington D.C.


On November 2, 2010, Jay Inslee won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating James Watkins (R).[29]

U.S. House of Representatives General Election, Washington, Congressional District 1, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Inslee Incumbent 57.7% 172,642
     Republican James Watkins 42.3% 126,737
Total Votes 299,379

See also


  1. CNN "Washington Districts Race - 2012 Election Center"
  2. Washington Secretary of State, "Top 2 Primary: FAQ," accessed May 17, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 Washington Secretary of State, "Dates and Deadlines," accessed May 25, 2012
  4. Seattle Times, "Inslee announces run for governor, with a jobs-and-business theme," accessed December 6, 2011
  5. Washington Redistricting Map, "Map" accessed July 24, 2012
  6. Seattle Post-Intelligencer "Darcy Burner announces candidacy for Congress," accessed December 6, 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Seattle Times "The race is on to fill new 1st Congressional District," May 12, 2012
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Roll Call "Inslee Announcement Prompts More Demcoratic Interest," accessed December 6, 2011
  9. The (Everett) Daily Herald "Hobbs looks to bring moderate voice to Congress," accessed December 6, 2011
  10. Everett Herald "Stymied by redistricting, Liias scraps run for Congress," accessed January 6, 2012
  11. Roger Goodman campaign website "Goodman withdraws from congressional race," April 12, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 Seattle PI "Watkins out, endorses Koster in the 1st," January 29, 2012
  13. Seattlest "Correction: There is One More Person Running in the First District," accessed December 6, 2011
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Seattle Times, "Voters face crowded ballots for 1st District," July 31, 2012
  15. Seattle Times, "The race is on to fill new 1st Congressional District," May 12, 2012
  16. Seattle Times, "DelBene adds $400,000 in own money campaign; total of $2.3 million," July 29, 2012
  17. Seattle Times, "Congressional District 1 candidates stake their ground, as poll shows movement," July 28, 2012
  18. Open Secrets, "Progress for Washington Independent Expenditures," accessed July 31, 2012
  19. DCCC, "Red to Blue 2012"
  20. NRCC "Young Guns 2012"
  21. New York Times, "House Race Ratings," accessed August 10, 2012
  22. 22.0 22.1 Cook Political Report, "Competitive House Races," May 3, 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 Center for Politics, "2012 House Ratings," Updated May 9, 2012
  24. Washington Redistricting Commission, "Final Statewide," accessed May 15, 2012
  25. Moonshadow Mobile's CensusViewer, "Washington's congressional districts 2001-2011 comparison"
  26. Labels & Lists, "VoterMapping software voter counts"
  27. "2011 Redistricting and 2012 Elections in Washington," September 2012
  28. Cook Political Report, "Partisan Voting Index Districts of the 113th Congress: 2004 & 2008" accessed October 2012
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013