US House race in Washington's 9th Congressional District may feature 2 Democrats

SEATTLE — A progressive Democrat on Thursday edged into the second spot in the race for Washington's 9th Congressional District, potentially setting up a November contest between two Democrats.

Under Washington's primary system, all candidates appear on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.

After Pierce County updated its primary ballot count Thursday night, Democrat Sarah Smith was a razor-thin 196 votes ahead of Republican Doug Basler. Her lead dropped slightly from the 376 vote advantage she had when King County updated its count earlier in the day. If her lead holds, she'd advance to the November ballot along with U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who has represented the district for more than two decades.

The district runs from north Tacoma to parts of Seattle and Bellevue, so voters come from both Pierce County and King County.

King County on Thursday afternoon estimated it still had 75,000 ballots to count from Tuesday's primary election, and Pierce County said it still had an estimated 13,500 to count.

Sarah Smith was recruited to run by Brand New Congress, the same group that backed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's Democratic primary this summer.

Another race that was too close to call was the primary match in Washington's 8th District Congressional primary election, where Democrat Kim Schrier is maintaining her lead for the second spot to advance to the November ballot.

Schrier, a pediatrician, was in second place in updated returns Thursday, followed closely by Democratic attorney Jason Rittereiser. Schrier was holding a 1,205-vote lead after Thursday's count.

Republican Dino Rossi, a former state lawmaker who had unsuccessful runs for governor and the U.S. Senate, advanced Tuesday to the November election and will face either Schrier or Rittereiser.

Long-time incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is retiring. The seat has been held by Republicans since it was created in 1980. The district includes the eastern suburbs of Seattle and stretches into the rural Cascade Mountains. It is among about two dozen across the country that are held by Republicans but whose voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, making it a critical potential pickup for the Democrats trying to gain control of the House for the first time since 2010.

The race is one of three GOP-held congressional districts that Democrats are hopeful of capturing in November. In the 5th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a top Republican House leader, held a narrow lead over Democrat Lisa Brown. Both have advanced to the November ballot.

In the 3rd Congressional District in southwestern Washington, incumbent Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler advanced along with Democrat Carolyn Long, a professor at Washington State University-Vancouver. In updated returns, Herrera Beutler maintained a slim lead over Long. Herrera Beutler has won her last two elections with more than 60 percent of the vote.

The next ballot update is Friday.