PORT ANGELES — The race for first-term 6th District U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer’s seat shaped into a Nov. 4 general election contest between Kilmer, a Gig Harbor Democrat, and Republican challenger Marty McClendon, also of Gig Harbor, after ballots were counted Tuesday in the Aug. 5 primary election.
Two North Olympic Peninsula candidates — Douglas Milholland of Port Townsend and W. (Greybeard) McPherson of Port Angeles — had distant third- and fourth-place showings, respectively, with no chance of overtaking either McClendon and Kilmer for the two-year position.
Kilmer, a Port Angeles native, and McClendon will advance to the Nov. 4 general election, but Kilmer has a distinct advantage, judging by the primary election results.
The 6th District includes Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Mason, Kitsap and Thurston counties, and part of Tacoma in Pierce County — and Kilmer won in every county.
Kilmer’s districtwide total was 60,284 votes, or 59 percent, to McClendon’s 35,363 votes, or 35 percent.
Milholland, 65, a Green Party candidate, had 3,513 votes, or 3.43 percent, while McPherson, 75, had 3,304 votes, or 3 percent.
Kilmer said he spent the last two years traveling the district and being accessible to constituents, and it paid off.
“I feel good about where we are,” he said.
“My focus has been on doing the job.
“My approach with every campaign I run is to treat it like a job interview.
“I am consciously trying to focus on what people want . . . which is trying to get this economy back on track.”
Kilmer and McClendon are not political strangers.
Kilmer retained his 26th District state Senate seat by defeating McClendon in 2010.
McClendon, a real estate broker and co-pastor of Family Church in Gig Harbor, said he was disappointed at his vote total.
“We’re getting beat pretty bad,” he said.
“I was hoping to be in the 40s [percentage-wise], not the 30s, but it’s a big district and they don’t know who I am, so it’s not surprising.
But he was glad to finish second and advance to the general election.
“We have to work harder, we have to do a better job getting in front of the people,” McClendon said.
Milholland also ran unsuccessfully in the 2002 Democratic primary against Norm Dicks, the longtime former 6th District incumbent Democratic incumbent — and Kilmer’s predecessor.
“I’m drinking sort of a bitter drink,” Milholland said of the night’s results.
“I didn’t even become a No. 2 in my home county.”
McClendon came in second to Kilmer in Jefferson County with 26 percent of the vote while Milholland was a distant third with 12 percent.
But Milholland said he plans to run again for the 6th District seat in 2016.
“Since the issues I am concerned about are not going to go away, I have to make that critical decision, and I am prepared to commit myself to the next two years to building an alternative to the dominant two-part system.”
McPherson said he was disappointed and relieved at the same time by the primary results.
“I am disappointed that I didn’t get more votes, and I’m a little relieved because I have other plans as well, so I can start working on those and forget about this for a while.
“I’m going to do something I’ve done before: be a citizens lobbyist.”
There were 102,464 votes counted as of Tuesday, or about 25 percent of the estimated 407,000 voters in the district.
In Clallam County, Kilmer had 7,703 votes, or 54 percent; McClendon 5,561 votes, or 39 percent; McPherson 543 votes, or 4 percent, and Milholland, 416 votes, or 3 percent.
In Jefferson County, Kilmer had 5,446 votes, or 58 percent; McClendon 2,463 votes, or 26 percent; Milholland 1,141 votes, or 12 percent, and McPherson 267 votes, or 3 percent.
The Clallam County Elections Office counted the 14,670 ballots received by mail and in drop boxes as of Tuesday morning, or 31 percent of the 47,133 ballots mailed July 16 to registered voters for Tuesday’s primary ballot count.
The Jefferson County Elections Office sent out 22,877 ballots .
Jefferson County election workers counted 9,641 ballots Tuesday that included ballots received by mail and from two drop boxes emptied that morning.
For ballots to be valid, they had to be postmarked with Tuesday’s date or deposited in a drop box by 8 p.m.
The next scheduled count of ballots will be Friday in both counties.
The primary results must be certified by Aug. 22.
The U.S. representative position pays $174,000 a year.
Kilmer, a state representative from 2005-2006 and state senator from 2007-2012, is a graduate of Port Angeles High School and Princeton University with a doctorate from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
McClendon has never held public elective office.
________Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.