Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Patty Murray defeats Tiffany Smiley for re-election in Washington Senate race

Patty  Murray speaks to a crowd with campaign signs behind her.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) speaks during a small-business town hall campaign event on Oct. 13. Photo: Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray has defeated Republican challenger Tiffany Smiley, crushing GOP hopes for an upset in reliably blue Washington state.

Driving the news: The Associated Press called the race for Murray on Tuesday night after early election returns showed the incumbent up by about 14 percentage points on election night.

Why it matters: Recent polls showed Smiley closing in on Murray, the third-highest-ranking Senate Democrat. That gave Republicans hope for a bigger-than-expected red wave — and prompted Democrats to send more money to defend Murray, who has held the seat for 30 years.

  • Nationwide, Democrats are fighting to hold on to their tenuous control of Congress — or at least prevent Republicans from gaining too many seats.

Catch up quick: Throughout the campaign, Murray had criticized Smiley's stance on abortion rights, while Smiley, a veterans’ advocate and former nurse, had attacked Murray over inflation and crime.

  • Murray's campaign argued that Smiley — who described herself as "100% pro-life" and expressed her support for Texas' restrictive abortion ban — holds views that are out of step with Washingtonians.
  • The candidates also disagreed about President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan, with Murray supporting it and Smiley denouncing it as an unfair giveaway.
  • On climate legislation, Murray praised the recent Inflation Reduction Act as a necessary step to curb planet-rising greenhouse gas emissions. Smiley attacked the measure, predicting it would raise energy costs.

The intrigue: Smiley also argued that Murray had been in office too long, calling herself the "new mom in town."

  • That's a reference to a campaign moniker Murray adopted early in her political career after she said a male legislator discounted her as "just a mom in tennis shoes."
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