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Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle attorney and gay rights leader, is the Democrats' pick for an open state house seat. Pedersen claimed victory Tuesday in the expensive, hotly contested six-candidate primary in the 43rd district in Seattle. The nomination is tantamount to election in one of the state's most liberal districts.
Pedersen was the top vote-getter on primary night a week earlier and padded his lead as absentees were counted. As of Tuesday, he was 252 votes ahead of his closest competitor, former judge and Seattle city councilman Jim Street. Street conceded and said Pedersen has "tremendous potential."
Pedersen is heavily favored in November over Republican Hugh Foskett, a college student who has raised no money, and Progressive Party candidate Linde Knighton, who is running a shoestring campaign.
Pedersen, well-connected in Seattle's legal community and in local and national gay rights organizations, has raised about $170,000 for his campaign, leading the primary pack, which collectively raised more than $500,000.
Pedersen hopes to succeed Rep. Ed Murray, who is in line to move to the state senate. Both men are openly gay, and Murray endorsed Pedersen late in the primary, saying he could best fight for marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Pedersen was lead attorney for Lambda Legal in the losing bid to persuade the state supreme court to throw out the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Pedersen's election would keep at four the number of gays in the Washington State house; if elected, Murray would be the senate's only openly gay member. (AP)