Jayapal claims victory over Walkinshaw in House battle of progressives
In the race for the 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Seattle as well as Shoreline and Vashon Island, State Senator Pramila Jayapal emerged with a strong lead on election night over her opponent Brady Walkinshaw.
Her victory would make her the first Indian-American woman in Congress.
But the news of Republican victories nationwide had progressive Democrats in Seattle feeling under siege.
As her votes were tallied, Jayapal was also contemplating serving in Congress under Donald Trump’s presidential administration.
“If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense starting tomorrow," Jayapal said to supporters at her party in a brewery on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, before Trump was declared the victor.
"We will need to fight, not just for our progressive ideals, but to stop the disastrous rollback of decades of mainstream progress in this country.”
Retiring Congessman Jim McDermott also took the stage. He came from the Democrats' somber election-night gathering at the Westin Hotel which he said was "not quite the same mood that you've got in here."
McDermott said he has confidence in Jayapal to tackle progressive issues in Congress, just as she did after the September 11 attacks. That’s when Jayapal founded the group Hate-Free Zone to combat anti-immigrant sentiment.
“Pramila was absolutely brilliant in the leadership of that organization, and you should be proud to have her as your Congresswoman," McDermott said.
Jayapal congratulated her opponent, state Representative Brady Walkinshaw, as a “tireless fighter," saying in the legislature he made a difference on issues like emergency mental health services and the opioid epidemic.
Walkinshaw agreed that it was a good campaign, noting it's the first time in the state's history that two Democrats have contested a federal seat.
“We’re really proud to have run the race that we’ve run so far," he said. "The totals weren’t what we expected them to be, but I really want to congratulate Senator Jayapal on running a really great race, and I think it was an honor to have this campaign here between two really progressive Democrats.”
He said the national results call for building bridges to parts of the country that are being left out.