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Seattle Times: Pramila Jayapal defeats Brady Walkinshaw in Washington’s 7th Congressional District

November 9, 2016

Seattle Times: Pramila Jayapal defeats Brady Walkinshaw in Washington’s 7th Congressional District

By Daniel Beekman, Lynn Thompson and Claudia Rowe

Pramila Jayapal defeated Brady Walkinshaw Tuesday in Washington’s super-liberal 7th Congressional District.

By winning the seat occupied since 1988 by retiring U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Jayapal becomes the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress.

The 52-year-old state senator — an immigrant-rights activist who scored an endorsement from Bernie Sanders last spring — captured 57 percent of the vote, as of early Wednesday, in the Seattle-area clash featuring two Democrats.

The battle between Jayapal and Walkinshaw, a 32-year-old state representative, was the only competitive congressional contest in Washington.

Both candidates referenced the U.S. presidential contest Tuesday night. Jayapal said the result of her race meant the 7th District could be “a light in the darkness” if Donald Trump were to emerge triumphant.

“If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense as of tomorrow,” she told supporters, many of them in their 20s, who packed Optimism Brewing in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. “We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”

Jayapal said her “small divide” with Walkinshaw was “nothing compared to the huge chasm that divides our nation right now.”

Walkinshaw said he and Jayapal share “a profound amount in common and as we look where our country may be headed, that’s where my concerns are.”

In other districts, incumbents were all coasting to re-election, many of them having outspent their challengers by at least 10 to 1.

Jayapal finished first among nine candidates in August’s top-two primary election with 42 percent. Walkinshaw, who would have been Washington’s first openly gay congressperson, narrowly finished second with 21 percent.

Their general-election race started slowly, overshadowed by others in a wild political season partly because the candidates agreed on most issues.

Both said they’d push for a nationwide $15-an-hour minimum wage and a ban on assault weapons. And both said they’d oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership pact in its existing form.

The race picked up in October as Jayapal and Walkinshaw debated state Initiative 732, a carbon-tax measure, and launched combative television ads.

When Whatcom County-reared Walkinshaw called Jayapal ineffective and criticized her for missing state Legislature votes, the Indian immigrant and some of her supporters slammed him for “going negative” and compared him to Trump.

While Jayapal promised voters she’d be a bold voice for progressive causes in Washington, D.C., Walkinshaw said he’d be better at working across the aisle.

Neither candidate was in Olympia long before running for Congress. Jayapal was elected in 2014.

Walkinshaw was appointed in 2013.