Democrat Patty Murray wins re-election to U.S. Senate, challenger Tiffany Smiley concedes

Sen. Patty Murray won reelection Tuesday as the Democratic stalwart prevailed in a campaign in which she repeatedly said her Republican challenger was too extreme for Washington state.

Murray defeated Tiffany Smiley to win a sixth term.

"Washington state, thank you," Murray said at a Democratic Party gathering in Seattle Tuesday night. "The stakes of this election are so high and the voters of the state of Washington showed up."

On Nov. 9, Smiley conceded to Murray.

"This evening I reached out to Senator Murray and her campaign to congratulate her on her victory after a hard-fought race. I cannot thank my family, my team and the wonderful people of Washington state enough for their support over the past 18 months. This race was never about me - it was about the amazing people of this state and I will never stop fighting and advocating for them," Smiley said in a campaign statement. 

Murray said she would work to restore abortion rights, build the economy, cut prescription drug prices and "keep our democracy a democracy."

"Do you believe everyone should be able to count on Social Security?" Murray said, adding that President Joe Biden had called to congratulate her.

Smiley raised a lot of money and put up a stiff challenge to Murray, but her message that Murray was a do-nothing senator who had stayed in office too long did not resonate with enough voters.

Murray’s 30 years in the Senate place her behind only Democratic Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry "Scoop" Jackson for longest service in the Senate from the Evergreen State. The powerhouse duo served 36 years and 30 years, respectively, and were among the most powerful senators of the mid-20th century.

RELATED: Watch the full Town Hall between Washington candidates for US Senate, Patty Murray and Tiffany Smiley

Murray is now a member of the Democratic leadership.

Smiley has repeatedly attacked Murray’s tenure and stature in the Senate during the campaign as the pair argued over abortion, crime and inflation during the run-up to Tuesday’s election.

Murray won her first campaign for the Senate in 1992, a suburban parent motivated to run in part by the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. She and others felt the senators treated Anita Hill, who had accused Thomas of sexual harassment, unfairly.

Murray again made women’s rights a signature of her campaign.

The Democrat said in this election: "Women’s rights are on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot and our economy is on the ballot."

Murray said Smiley would be a vote for a nationwide ban on abortion. Smiley countered that while she is pro-life, she oppose a nationwide ban. She said the issue should be left up to the residents of each state following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Smiley has said the state has a "crime crisis," and that Murray has been absent on the issue. Murray has said crime is a local, state and federal issue and pointed to the easy availability of guns as one reason.

Murray, 71, also tried to tie Smiley to former President Donald Trump and his MAGA supporters, saying the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, was something voters should not forget.

Smiley, 41, blamed Murray for a rise in crime and other social ills.

A native of Pasco, Washington, Smiley tried to connect with voters by focusing on her personal story. She’s a former nurse who has highlighted her past advocacy for her husband, a military veteran who was blinded in an explosion while serving in Iraq in 2005.

Murray had raised more than $17.8 million as of the September reporting deadline, and had $3.7 million in the bank. Smiley had raised more than $12.8 million — far more than other recent GOP Senate challengers in Washington state — and had $2.4 million in the bank.

Washington hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate since 1994.