In Washington state’s first congressional district, longtime amnesty supporter Pedro Celis had the backing of the National Republican Congressional Committee and big money donors. As of July 16th, he had raised a whopping $428,925, while his more conservative opponent Robert Sutherland had raised only $4,601, according to Federal Election Commission filings (as reported by the Bellingham Herald).

The two candidates’ home pages drive home the funding disparity: This is Celis’ snazzy home page; here is Sutherland’s more economical one.

Celis was expected to easily defeat Sutherland and several other minor candidates. But early returns from last night’s primary indicate it may not work out that way. In Washington, primaries are open (i.e. open to all parties rather than segregated into multiple races). The top two candidates, regardless of party, move on to the general election. As of this writing, Celis is in third place with 12,906 votes (15.1 percent of the total) whereas Sutherland is in second place with 13,626 votes (15.9 percent of the total). (The candidate in first place is Democrat Suzan DelBene.)

Amnesty proponent Chris Vance, a former state representative and county councilman, took the news in stride:

It will be tough for Republicans to win this seat either way.

Editor’s note:

In response to two commenters who asked, this post has been updated to explain how Washington’s open primary system works.

Update, August 10th:

Good news for the NRCC and the Open Borders Lobby: Celis pulled ahead and has declared victory.