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Inslee reelected to congressional seat

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee of Bainbridge will join a galvanized Democratic majority in Congress, after easily fending off a challenge from Republican Larry Ishmael of Redmond.

By Friday, Inslee had received more than 68 percent of the 245,578 votes counted in the 1st Congressional District, which includes portions of Kitsap, King and Snohomish Counties. Ishmael had garnered 31.39 percent of the total votes and 33.71 percent in Kitsap County.

Ishmael first challenged Inslee in 2006, winning 32 percent of votes after just four months of campaigning. He announced his 2008 bid in December. Ishmael did not return phone calls this week.

Inslee will mark his 10th year representing the 1st Congressional District in 2009. The congressman spent election night celebrating Democratic wins at the Westin Hotel in Seattle and attended an event for congressional candidate Darcy Burner in Bellevue.

“And dancing in the streets,” Inslee said. “Seattle at midnight was a pretty happening place.”

Inslee was back at work after election day this week, crafting a package of green job incentives to be included in future financial stimulus packages.

He said clean energy initiatives could be a logical, non-partisan portion of the agenda for the first 100 days of the new administration. Those could include increasing funding for research and development, retooling building codes to promote conservation and helping homeowners increase the efficiency of their homes, he said.

In the long term Inslee said he wants to see a cap-and-trade policy for greenhouse gas emissions.

Inslee said he now sees fresh opportunity, after spending eight years as a lawmaker during the Bush administration.

“The things I have been working on for so long have a chance of passing now,” Inslee said. “And finally, I think the things that my constituents have really wanted have a chance at passing. It’s like the doors are finally open.”

Inslee has been mentioned in several political blogs, including politico.com, as a possible choice for Secretary of the Interior in the Obama administration.

Inslee said he was honored to be mentioned as a candidate and said it would be a hard decision if the post was offered.

“It would be difficult, because I am thrilled with this job,” he said.

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