On November 8, 1983, former Governor Daniel J. Evans (b. 1925) wins a special election to complete the term of Senator Henry M. Jackson (1912-1983), who died two months earlier. Evans defeats Democratic Congressman Mike Lowry (b. 1939). Governor John Spellman (b. 1925) had appointed Evans to fill Jackson's seat pending the election.
Henry Jackson, a Democrat, died on September 1, 1983, after serving Washington in the Congress for 42 years. Governor John Spellman appointed Evans to fill Jackson's seat. Evans resigned as president of The Evergreen State College and as head of the Northwest Power Planning Council. Immediately, candidates filed for the special election. Mike Lowry and Seattle Mayor Charles Royer faced off for the Democratic nomination. Evans ran against broadcasting executive and conservative television commentator Lloyd Cooney for the Republican nomination.
In the primary election held on October 11, 1983, Lowry won the Democratic nomination and Evans became the Republican candidate.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "The two candidates' style was as much of a contest as their positions on the issues. The bearded Lowry's eye-rolling, arm-waving, emotional, stump-preacher brand of rhetoric versus Evans's cool, voice-of-reason speaking style, consistent with his distinguished, senatorial appearance."
Lowry's liberal platform included opposition to U.S. military involvement in Lebanon. Support for him eroded when, on October 23, 1983, a terrorist bombing killed 249 U.S. servicemen in Beirut. He also opposed the deployment of intermediate range ballistic missiles. Evans's campaign appealed to moderate voters.