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Washington: 1st District Special Election Set

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) called for a special election to fill the seat of former Rep. Jay Inslee (D), setting up a confusing situation as a result of redistricting.

The special election will be held concurrently with the regular election schedule, with the primary on Aug. 7 and the general on Nov. 6. Voters will have representation for the last two months of the year, but that means candidates running for both a full term and in the special will be running under two different sets of lines at the same time.

“I am concerned about the voter confusion that could result,” Gregoire said in a statement on Monday. “This is an unusual situation where an election to fill a vacancy occurs in a year of redistricting. The result is some voters will cast a ballot in the current 1st district for the special vacancy election and will also cast a vote in their new district for their next Representative in Congress.”

At least it’s keeping the same number. The current 1st district is far more favorable to Democrats than the redrawn district, which is expected to have the most competitive races in the state for the next decade. It still includes suburban areas north of Seattle, but it now also includes much of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties, rural areas that lean Republican.

The race for the redrawn 1st is already in full swing. John Koster (R), who is running in the new district after losing a close 2010 race to Rep. Rick Larsen (D) in the 2nd district, released an internal poll today showing him with a wide lead in the top-two primary. He took 36 percent and has the primary edge as the only Republican in the race. Democrats Darcy Burner, Laura Ruderman, Steve Hobbs and Suzan DelBene combined for 22 percent in the poll.

The survey was conducted by Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders from March 24-27. It polled 400 registered and likely voters in the redrawn 1st and had a 4 point margin of error.

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