U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott has run for Congress 13 times and never lost.
Don’t expect the Seattle Democrat’s streak to be broken this year.
McDermott, the longest serving member of Washington’s congressional delegation, faces four underfunded and little known opponents in a bid for a 14th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He along with one of that quartet will advance out of the Aug. 5 primary and into a run-off in the general election. The winner will earn a two-year term in Washington’s 7th Congressional District representing much of Seattle as well as Edmonds, Woodway and part of Shoreline.
McDermott’s foes are:
*Craig Keller, who led efforts earlier this year to repeal a minimum wage hike in Seattle and plastic bag ban in Issaquah;
*Scott Sutherland, a grocery store worker intent on development of green energy technology;
*Doug McQuaid, an attorney and 2012 candidate for Supreme Court;
*GoodSpaceGuy, a perennial hopeful whose chief focus is on establishing colonies in space.
While all four challengers are serious about serving in Congress, none are raising money on which to campaign against the incumbent.
McDermott, on the other hand, has collected in $380,000 in the election cycle and had $90,727 on hand as of July 16, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Though most political prognosticators consider a McDermott victory in November all but a sure-thing, the congressman intends to keep an election routine of putting out yard signs and being among constituents as often as possible.
“I work at being out there all the time. When communities are having their events, I go to their events. I’m accessible if they want to reach me,” he said. “People know me in the district.”
McDermott, 77, was born in Chicago and moved to Seattle in the 1960s to specialize in psychiatry after graduating from medical school. He served in the U.S. Navy at Long Beach Naval Station, treating soldiers and sailors returning from the Vietnam War.
McDermott entered politics upon his return to Seattle in 1970. That year he won a seat in the state House. He served in the House and state Senate until 1987. A year later, he won a seat in the U.S. House.
He came to Congress to work on national health care and deal with veterans’ problems and those are still his primary focus.
If re-elected, he wants to make “little fixes” in the federal health care law. One of those is to ensure care is continuous for patients as their economic situation improves or worsens abruptly.
In the arena of veteran issues, he’s promoting a program based on the ROTC model. He envisions students receiving a free medical education then working five years as a primary care physician in a Veterans Administration Hospital.
Keller, a 51-year-old Seattle Republican, may be McDermott’s most experienced challenger. A longtime precinct committee officer, his forays into electoral politics this year include a failed try to repeal a plastic-bag ban in Issaquah in February and an unsuccessful effort to roll back Seattle’s new minimum wage law.
His main focus the past few years has been the issue of illegal immigration.
Through his group, Respect Washington, he’s pushed several initiatives aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from obtaining jobs and driver’s licenses, and from voting.
“Although I am most capable of researching the facts and casting a vote on all other issues, I will be extremely, extremely focused on protecting the American worker (and honest employers) from immigration/labor fraud,” he wrote in an email.
He’s dead set against any reforms that would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States.
“My prime motivation in running for Congress is to completely reject the political/financial payoff that is “amnesty,” he wrote.
McQuaid, 69, of Seattle, is in his first congressional race. He ran for state Supreme Court in 2012 and lost to Justice Susan Owens.
A combat infantry soldier in the Vietnam War, McQuaid earned his law degree in 1972 and been in private practice since.
He’s competing as an independent — described on his campaign website as “Lone Wolf McQuaid” — and vows to not solicit contributions or endorsements.
“A Representative should not be beholden to any special interests or affiliations promoting partisan agendas,” he writes in the online voters guide. “I pledge to be an independent leader working for the best interests of each resident my District, regardless of his/her political agenda, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.”
Sutherland, 51, of Seattle, is the other Republican in the race. He ran against McDermott in 2012 and has not altered his campaign strategy much.
“I am running for Congress to promote green energy technology, HIV/AIDS research and fiscal responsibility,” he said.
On the federal budget, he said, “We need to stop the wasteful spending in Congress. I have no problem putting a thin red line under any and all wasteful spending bills from any member of Congress, regardless of their party affiliation.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union member also is pushing for a constitutional amendment requiring members of Congress write all proposed laws by hand. If one member isn’t physically able, another member can do it for them.
GoodSpaceGuy, 75, who lives just south of the Seattle city line, is vying on behalf of the Work and Wealth Party. Topping his agenda is abolition of the minimum wage as a first step to achieving a competitive free market economy. If wages are set by supply and demand, more jobs will be available.
McDermott’s support of policies to boost the federal minimum wage “will continue the unemployment. My policies will lead to full employment,” he said.
GoodSpaceGuy’s other focus is creating orbital space colonies. At least 200 people should be living in such colonies by now, he said, but federal authorities do not understand space colonies and are not investing in their establishment.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @dospueblos
U.S. House of Representatives, 7th Congressional District
About the job: At stake is a two-year term representing the 7th Congressional District which takes in Edmonds, Woodway and parts of Shoreline in Snohomish County and Lake Forest Park, Burien, Normandy Park and much of Seattle in King County. The annual salary is $174,000
Experience: Congress, 13 terms; Washington state House, 43rd District, 1971–1972; Washington State Senate, 43rd District, 1975–1987; U.S. Navy psychiatrist.
Experience: Founder Respect Washington, backer of “Respect for Law” initiative to curb hiring of and voting by undocumented immigrants; co-founder Save Our Choice, sponsor of 2014 measure to repeal plastic bag ban in Issaquah; West Seattle Precinct Committee Officer since 1994
Experience: 2012 candidate for 7th District Congressional seat; United Food and Commercial Workers member; employed at Fred Meyer in Seattle
Experience: 2012 candidate for state Supreme Court; Owner/manager of private businesses.
Residence: Unincorporated King County
Party: Work and Wealth
Experience: Frequent candidate for city, state and federal offices