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Cantwell wins, as early Washington returns point to good night for Democrats

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The first round of election results from across Western Washington pointed to a good night for Democratic candidates even as outcomes were mixed for progressive initiatives.

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell won re-election, beating Republican challenger Susan Hutchison.

Cantwell easily outdistanced Hutchison, a former Seattle TV anchor and state GOP chairwoman.

Cantwell is a former tech executive who previously served one term in the U.S. House and six years as a state representative in the state Legislature. She will be serving her fourth term.

It's been nearly a quarter century since the GOP has captured a major statewide race in Washington.

The last time voters sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate was 1994, when Sen. Slade Gorton was re-elected to his final term before being ousted by Cantwell in 2000.

Elsewhere:

In the hotly contested 8th Congressional district that was expected to be a bellwether for the national mood, Democrat Kim Schrier led Republican Dino Rossi 53-47.

Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers won re-election to the House in the 5th District, beating a strong challenge from Democrat Lisa Brown.

The district is centered in Spokane and has not elected a Democrat since former House Speaker Tom Foley last won in 1992. McMorris Rodgers won an open seat in 2004 and has generally cruised to easy victories since.

Two of the initiatives supported by many progressives were also off to big early leads, with I-1639 (gun control) ahead 60-40 and I-940 (law enforcement) up 59-41.

A measure to institute a carbon tax, I-1631, was down however, trailing 56-44. An initiative that proved confusing for some voters, I-1634, was winning, meaning cities across the state won’t be able to tax certain food if it passes.