The news last week that US Rep. Dave Reichert will retire is welcome, and overdue, news.
Reichert, a Republican, has been the 8th Congressional District Congressman for 14 years. The 8th includes Sammamish, other Eastside suburbs, Southern King County and east of the Cascades into Chelan County.
Reichert is one of the few so-called Republican moderates in the US House. While he indeed has been more environmentally friendly than most of his colleagues, his has been a mostly reliable Republican vote throughout his 14 years, including the last nine months under Donald Trump.
“I am not a wimp”
Reichert hasn’t hesitated to frequently cite his 33 years as King County Sheriff to tout his courage. These are what Sammamish Comment called his “I am not a wimp” moments.
To be sure, you can’t be a street cop without exhibiting physical courage. But as a Congressman, Reichert has been a profile in political timidity—and political cowardice.
His actions over the repeal of Obamacare were inexplicable. First he was for repeal before he was against it.
Reichert refused to hold town hall meetings to face constituents opposed to repeal. In this, he wasn’t alone among Republicans. But the contrast to Democrats who faced hostile crowds at town hall meetings when Obamacare was adopted and in the 2010 elections in which they took a beating couldn’t be more stark.
Certainly the attempted assassination of US Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) is not to be waved away. But that’s why magnometers were invented, to detect guns and other weapons.
Democrats were already lining up to challenge Reichert next year. A half dozen already declared to run against him. Now that he’s dropped out, Ds are salivating that this “swing” district can be flipped.
This is the sort of naïve thinking that currently infects the Democrats. Reichert’s district is not a swing district.
Yes, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish trend Democratic. But just about everywhere else in King County in the 8th trends Republican: Black Diamond, Auburn, Maple Valley and rural King County are solidly R.
So is everywhere east of the Cascades.
Reichert won reelection last year against Tony Ventrella, who was a token candidate, taking 60% of the vote. Reichert won reelection in 2014 with 63% of the vote against Jason Ritchie, of Klahanie, who is now running for Sammamish City Council.
Any Democrat will have an uphill battle next year against any Republican.
Sammamish’s Dino Rossi already has been mentioned as a potential Republican to run for Reichert’s seat.
Rossi currently is a care-taker State Senator for the 45th Legislative District (northern Sammamish). He was appointed to fill the seat after incumbent Andy Hill died. The primary results indicate the seat is likely to flip to the Democrats in November’s election.
Rossi previously was State Senator for the 5th LD (what was then all but eight precincts of Sammamish before redistricting). He resigned in 2004 to run for governor. He lost by 133 votes in a disputed election. He ran again four years later and lost by a wide margin. He then ran for US Senate against incumbent Patty Murray and lost again.
When his successor in the State Senate, Cheryl Pflug, resigned for a state job, Rossi was appointed as caretaker until the next election.
Now that Reichert is calling it quits, Rossi’s name came up and he hasn’t ruled out running. But why would he run? His politics are probably in tune with the conservative parts of the 8th but they are certainly out of step with the Eastside suburbs. For all of Reichert’s faults, he was more in tune than Rossi is.
It’s good riddance to Reichert, but Rossi would not be a good replacement.
I’m not sure writing off the 8th District as Red based on Reichert’s performance against complete unknowns is a very reliable method of prediction. Reichert’s name recognition as a popular Sheriff was always going to be hard to overcome regardless of how awful a legislator he was. Given that Clinton won the district by 3% in 2016 and that itself was an increase over Obama’s margin in 2012 over Mitt Romney (by about 1.5% I recall), the GOP will need not only effort far beyond recent years here to overcome an energized Democratic vote but also someone who can make up for it with (positive) name recognition. It’s hard to say if Dino Rossi will fill that need – the name recognition factor might work against him with independent voters and given the surge in anti-Trump sentiment everyone knows is coming in 2018 he tends to avoid fights he might lose anyway.