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Inslee jumps out to big lead in quest for seventh term

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee is well on his way to his seventh term in the First Congressional District after the first rounds of primary votes were released Tuesday.

Though it is still early in the process, with many votes left to count, it appears Inslee’s challenger will be Republican James Watkins of Redmond.

As of Thursday at 12 p.m., Inslee has earned more than 56 percent of the vote, while Watkins is near 27 percent.

Two other opponents, Matthew Burke (R-Redmond) and David Schirle, an independent candidate from Lynnwood, gained 13 and 4 percent of the vote, respectively.

Watkins, who worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in the 1990s, said Inslee’s early numbers were lower than his margins of victory in the last few elections, which Watkins interpreted as a hint of voter disapproval of Inslee.

“I think the voters are definitely saying they want fiscal conservatism,” Watkins said.

Watkins has criticized Inslee early and often on spending issues in this election, a point Inslee doesn’t understand because of the Republican Party’s history of spending.

“What is a mystery to me, is it was Republican trickle-down economics that got us in this ditch, and now they’re complaining that we have to spend some money on a tow truck to pull us out,” Inslee said.

The six-term representative, and rumored gubernatorial candidate in 2012, said he has voted against spending bills he doesn’t believe are in the nation’s interest, such as the bank bailouts. But Inslee said he will vote for justified spending to keep the nation on track, something he said the Economic Stimulus Bill has done.

“I have supported necessary investments to keep us out of the second Great Depression,” Inslee said. “The stimulus was an emergency expense to avoid an economic catastrophe.”

Watkins continues to preach the message of fiscal conservatism. He said the voters are showing that they want to reign in spending, and that they believe Watkins is the right man for that job.

“He’s been in office for 14 years, and voters are saying, ‘we just can’t afford Jay Inslee anymore,’ and that’s what this election is going to come down to,” he said.

Inslee said, if re-elected, he will continue to work to create jobs that focus on green building and technology, a market Inslee believes remains untapped.

Inslee has been in office since 1996, and he says his job isn’t done yet, and the state, and the country have a lot of work left before they can recover from this economic downturn.

“This job’s never ending, particularly in this case when we have such a difficult hole to dig out of economically,” he said. “We still have a long, long way to go.”

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