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Suzan DelBene. Photo via Wikipedia
Suzan DelBene. Photo via Wikipedia

This could turn out to be an interesting political race to watch, and it speaks to the growing power of the technology industry in Washington state.

Two former Microsoft employees are set to face off in a political battle this fall for the seat in Washington’s First Congressional District.

Suzan DelBene — a 52-year-old former Drugstore.com executive who worked at Microsoft in marketing roles from 1989 to 1998 — captured the seat in 2012. Now, the incumbent will face Pedro Celis, a 54-year-old Mexican immigrant and former Microsoft distinguished engineer who according to The Seattle Times plans to announce his candidacy today.

Celis, who studied computer science at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Studies and the University of Waterloo in Canada, joined Microsoft in 1998 where he worked in the SQLServer Group, later taking on a senior technical role on the Bing team.

The First Congressional District is an oddly shaped and economically diverse district, stretching from the Canadian border south to encompass large portions of the tech-heavy Eastside suburbs. Those include Redmond and Kirkland, as well as the high-end community of Medina where Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates lives.

Pedro Celis
Pedro Celis

The Seattle Times calls the First Congressional District a “swing district,” pointing out that it represents the best chance for the Republicans to gain a seat. Celis, a Republican, plans to attack DelBene over her support of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare — as well as her support of increasing the federal minimum wage.

Celis co-chaired Mitt Romney’s primary presidential campaign in Washington state, and he is the past chairman of the Washington State chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. He retired from Microsoft in 2012, and now serves as a board member at Plaza Bank.

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