In the Sept. 19 primary, Cantwell faces two challengers who oppose the war and want U.S. troops out, a view reflected in state polls that show 59 percent back an immediate withdrawal.

Unlike Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who faces a tough primary challenge from wealthy businessman Ned Lamont, Cantwell's rivals are little-known and underfunded. Mark Wilson, a businessman, has the backing of peace activist Cindy Sheehan. Hong Tran is an attorney who fled Saigon, Vietnam, as a child in 1975.

McGavick, 48, is well-versed in the politics of Washington - as in the nation's capital. He served as campaign chairman and chief of staff to the lawmaker Cantwell ousted, Republican Slade Gorton.

McGavick went on to work as chairman, president and chief executive officer at Seattle-based Safeco Insurance Co. He left the company last winter and received a golden parachute of more than $28 million.

The Republican candidate argues that the division within the Democratic Party on Iraq has helped him in opinion polls that show Cantwell leading by 4 to 10 percentage points.

McGavick and Cantwell split over oil drilling in the Alaska wildlife refuge - a contentious issue in the Northwest. McGavick has the strong backing of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and oil interests in his call for "environmentally sensitive drilling."

"It will be pretty clear what the choice is, and I'm not sure people are comfortable sending back another vote for the Bush agenda at this point," she said in an interview.

Washington Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz acknowledged that Cantwell's support for the Iraq war is hurting her campaign, turning away volunteers and grass-roots support. But he argued that her record will appeal to Washington voters.

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