ELECTION ALERT: Sen. Murray Expands Lead Over Rossi - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

ELECTION ALERT: Murray Beats Rossi

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Democratic Sen. Patty Murray pushed past Republican challenger Dino Rossi on Thursday and will win a fourth term, NBC News projected.

In winning, Murray preserves breathing room for the Senate's shrunken Democratic majority after Republicans took control of the House for the rest of President Barack Obama's first term. Obama campaigned for Murray twice, including a 10,000-person Seattle rally just as voters were receiving their ballots.

Rossi conceded in a statement on his website, saying: "I called Senator Murray to offer my congratulations on her re-election to the U.S. Senate."

There is now just one Senate race still outstanding: The bitter battle in Alaska, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski waged a write-in campaign against the Republican who beat her in the primary, Joe Miller, and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams.

Democrats will still control the Senate with 53 seats. Murkowski has said that if she wins, she will caucus with the Republicans.

Murray's victory was secured Thursday as tallies pushed her lead to about 46,000 votes out of more than 1.8 million counted, or about 51 percent to 49 percent. About three-quarters of the expected ballots had been counted in unofficial returns.

Hundreds of thousands of ballots still await processing, but an Associated Press analysis determined Murray's lead would be insurmountable.

Murray's campaign offered a strong defense of her ability to win federal spending, even in a year when economic jitters threatened to derail that traditional strength for sitting senators. The list of projects she touted was seemingly endless: Bridges, highways, veterans' hospitals, dams, port construction and more.

Murray also sought to paint Rossi as a friend of big business, pointing to his call to repeal the Democrats' new Wall Street regulations.

Rossi's campaign was relentlessly focused on Murray's spending record, including the sometimes intertwining paths of Murray's campaign contributors and her "earmarks" for pet projects. He argued that the one-time underdog candidate had changed over 18 years in Washington, D.C., and had to be replaced to secure the nation's economic future.

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