U.S. Senate: Patty Murray holds off challenge from Tiffany Smiley

The Associated Press has called the race for the incumbent, who was up 57% to 42% over Republican challenger Smiley after the first ballot drop Tuesday night.

Patty Murray waves surrounded by family

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray celebrates as she holds on to her Senate seat for a 6th term with family and supporters at the Westin hotel in Bellevue on Nov. 8, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray led GOP challenger Tiffany Smiley 57% to 42% Tuesday night. More votes will be counted in the coming days, but The Associated Press called the race for Washington state's five-term incumbent shortly after initial election results were posted.

Murray, a member of Democratic leadership, faced potentially her fiercest election challenge since her initial 1992 bid for Senate. The contest between Smiley and Murray has drawn mountains of campaign dollars to Washington.

On Tuesday night, as Democrats gathered for an official election-watching party in Bellevue, cheers erupted as Murray got up to speak. Murray, surrounded by family, thanked supporters for helping campaign and get out voters.

Two women embrace on stage

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray enters the stage to celebrate leading the polls with family and supporters at the Westin hotel in Bellevue on Nov. 8, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray enters the stage to celebrate leading the polls with family and supporters at the Westin hotel in Bellevue on Nov. 8, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

“You threw yourself into this fight to keep our democracy a democracy,” Murray said. “You all sent a message using your voice and your votes to determine the direction of this country.”

Throughout the autumn, the race for Murray’s sixth term has been considered tighter than initially expected, amid rising prices for gas and groceries and political headwinds faced by President Joe Biden’s administration.

The combined $36 million spent by the two campaigns — $21 million by Murray and $15 million by Smiley — makes this contest the most expensive U.S. Senate race in Washington in four decades. That sum does not include spending by outside political organizations seeking to influence voters through barrages of advertisements.

A woman stands with her hands clasped

Alda Yu holds her hands to her neck as she watches election results come in during the Washington State Republicans election night watch party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut)

Alda Yu holds her hands to her neck as she watches election results come in during the Washington State Republicans election night watch party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut)

During the campaign, Murray has defended the Biden administration’s accomplishments, including the COVID-19 aid package passed last year that helped fund schools, emergency responders, rent relief and other needs amid the global pandemic. Murray has likewise touted the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed this summer. That legislation includes the largest package in congressional history to fight climate change, as well as provisions that lower the cost of prescriptions drugs and health care costs for many.

Murray currently chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and also has a senior perch on the Appropriations Committee. A member of Democratic leadership, Murray has vowed to protect abortion rights in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rollback of federal protections and to make child care more accessible. The senator has also sought to address crime by strengthening gun laws — including the return of a federal prohibition on so-called assault weapons.

Tiffany Smiley stands on state
Tiffany Smiley, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, looks on after making remarks at the Washington State Republicans election night watch party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. Smiley is running against longtime Democratic Senator Patty Murray. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut)

A first-time candidate, Smiley began her career as a nurse, but quickly changed trails to advocate for veterans during the recovery of her husband after he returned from military service in Iraq injured and blinded. She has sought to blame rising prices for gas and groceries and some increases in crime on Democratic policies and has vowed to cut spending programs. Smiley has also called for boosting domestic fossil-fuel energy production and stemming immigration at America’s southern border.

Smiley has vowed to cut government spending in order to tackle inflation. While she is pro-life, Smiley said she supports states' rights to keep abortion legal — and it is legal in Washington — and that she opposes a federal ban on the procedure.

Murray’s tightest Senate election ever came in 2010, when she faced off against Republican and former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi. She ultimately prevailed by nearly 5 percentage points.

A man has a small american flag hanging in front of his face

An attendee wears an American flag on his ear at the Washington State Republicans election night watch party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut)

An attendee wears an American flag on his ear at the Washington State Republicans election night watch party Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. (Lindsey Wasson for Crosscut)

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.

Donate

About the Authors & Contributors