Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Reichert wins second term in Wash. 8th District" (UPDATED)

BELLEVUE, Wash. Democrat Darcy Burner has confirmed she's conceding the race against Republican Congressman Dave Reichert.
At a news conference today in Bellevue -- Burner says the voters of the 8th District have spoken.

She left without answering any questions.

Burner called Reichert last night to congratulate him on a second term. It's the second straight close victory for Reichert, who is a former King County sheriff.

He'll represent the suburban Seattle district for another two years.
UPDATE: I'm probably whistling in the dark, but I wish Darcy would do what Mary Jo Kilroy is doing in OH-15:
Just days after the balloting that left her 3,600 votes away from a seat in Congress, Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has reactivated her campaign to sniff out a few thousand voters who could hold the key to the election.

Kilroy’s campaign called about 70,000 voters last weekend and aired television and radio ads asking people who cast provisional ballots to contact the campaign and county boards of elections to make sure their votes in the 15 th Congressional District are counted.

Kilroy came up 3,536 votes short of toppling Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce of Upper Arlington, but she did not concede the election last week. Kilroy and her supporters think she could win after provisional and absentee votes are counted next week.
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Republican Rep. Dave Reichert survived a strong challenge from Democratic newcomer Darcy Burner, winning a second term Monday amid a Democratic wave that swept his party out of power in the House.

Reichert said Burner called to congratulate him on a second term, and the two shared their frustrations about the slow pace of Washington's largely vote-by-mail elections.

"Finally, something we agree on," Reichert told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Washington, D.C.

Burner did not publicly concede Monday night, but called a news conference Tuesday in Bellevue.

Her loss ended the Democrats' best hope for claiming a Republican House seat in this left-leaning state. Burner turned heads early by building a large campaign treasury, but in the end she could not capitalize on a strong tide in favor of Democratic candidates.

New returns posted Monday night put Reichert's lead at 4,727 votes, or 51.1 percent to Burner's 48.9 percent. Overall, 208,225 votes had been counted in the race.

"I just felt confident from the very beginning that people would recognize that I've done a good job back here representing people," Reichert, 56, told the AP.

"Not everyone's going to agree with what I do. That comes with the territory. But the key is listening, and being in touch with the community ... and not just voting down party lines," he said.

Reichert, 56, a former King County sheriff known for helping to capture the Green River Killer, narrowly won his first congressional term in 2004 and immediately became a target for Democrats. It was the first political campaign for Burner, 35, a former Microsoft Corp. manager.

In winning his second close race, Reichert returns to a Congress now dominated by Democrats. He had been chairman of the House subcommittee on emergency preparedness, and said Monday he hoped to return as its ranking Republican.

Reichert also said wins such as his, amid strong victories for Democrats across the country, showed that the GOP should heed the voices of centrist Republicans.

"It's time for Republicans to recognize that they haven't been listening very good, and we need to listen," Reichert told the AP. "I think it's an opportunity for us who come from these districts that have a diverse constituency to have a louder voice."

Burner's campaign relied heavily on tying Reichert to the Bush administration, a task helped when Reichert welcomed President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove and other top GOP figures to campaign fundraisers.

Reichert emphasized his experience in public service, mostly his 30 years in law enforcement. He had gained national recognition after the 2001 arrest in the Green River Killer case, early in his second term as King County sheriff.

The 8th District was also seen as classic swing territory: Voters there have always sent a Republican to Congress, but favored Democrats John Kerry for president and Patty Murray for Senate in 2004.

Burner had led Reichert in earlier King County returns, although an Associated Press analysis showed her margin there was likely not enough to overcome his lead in the Pierce County portion of the district, which sprawls across the suburbs east and southeast of Seattle.

In Monday's count, Reichert pulled slightly ahead of Burner in King County, putting the race out of reach. The vast majority of voters cast ballots by mail, and they count as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 7. Vote counting was to continue in the district for at least two more days.

Burner's campaign had been staking its hopes on some 20,000 absentee ballots dropped off at polling sites in King County, which were to be counted later in the week. But it was unclear how many of the ballots were from the state's 8th District.

Those ballots were under guard Monday because more voters than expected dropped their absentee ballots at polling sites, overstuffing the security bags meant to carry them to election headquarters.

King County's elections chief said the bags' chain of custody was clear, and the absentee ballots have their own security measures. But elections officials wanted to get clearance from the canvassing board on Tuesday before tallying the votes.

Reichert and Burner raised more than $5 million combined, putting both of them among a Federal Election Commission list of the year's top 50 congressional fundraisers. National party campaign committees also spent millions on the race.

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