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Sen. Patty Murray meets her Republican opponent Chris Vance in their first debate

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SEATTLE — Sen. Patty Murray, seeking her fifth term, met her Republican opponent Chris Vance Sunday in their first debate of the election season. The two candidates squared off in Spokane at Gonzaga University.

Republican Chris Vance blamed Sen. Patty Murray for congressional gridlock, saying in a debate that the Democrat is “part of the problem” and that the nation’s Capitol “is broken.”

Murray touted her bipartisan work with GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan on solving a 2013 budget impasse and spoke of her efforts to raise the minimum wage and working to invest in education and transportation.

Murray who was first elected in 1992, has said if voters return her to the Senate one of her priorities will be higher education and addressing high tuition costs and onerous student loans.

Vance is a former state GOP chairman and King County councilman. Early in the campaign, Vance dismissed his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, saying the New York businessman was too divisive.

A Republican has not won a U.S. Senate race in Washington state since 1994.

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