That surprised Larsen, who is seeking a 10th term.
“This is the first race I’ve run for Congress where there isn’t a mainstream Republican in the race,” he said. “It’s very unusual that the Republican Party in this area has taken a pass on this race.”
His five opponents do cover a lot of political turf. They are Brian Luke, a Libertarian; Gary Franco, an independent; Stonewall Jackson “Stoney” Bird, a Green; Collin Richard Carlson, a Democrat; and Uncle Mover, a moderate Republican.
At stake is a two-year term in the 2nd Congressional District covering Island and San Juan counties, plus western Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. It includes Everett, Marysville, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Arlington, Stanwood and Tulalip.
The top two finishers in the primary will meet in the November general election.
Larsen, 53, of Everett, won his seat in a nail-biter contest in 2000. He’s been re-elected eight times. With a victory in November he would become the district’s longest-serving representative.
“I didn’t set out to serve 20 years or 22 years or 14 years,” he said. “I only set out to serve and ask the voters every two years to have me back. It is still a privilege. There is still plenty of work to do.”
He rattled off a few issues: address veteran homelessness, train the next generation of workers, fix the federal health care law and pass a bill for infrastructure.
Larsen is confident Democrats will win enough House seats this fall to retake control of the chamber.
“One thing I believe Democrats will do when we get the majority is … hold the president and his administration accountable for their actions,” he said.
Luke, 45, of Lynnwood, is communication director for the Snohomish County Libertarian Party. A grocery department manager, he challenged Larsen in the 2016 primary.
He said he wants to deal with the “enormous” national debt posing a threat to the country’s long-term economic well-being. The nation’s military policy needs reform and the U.S. should get out of NATO because it is “fiscally irresponsible” to stay in, he said.
On immigration, he said more border enforcement is needed. Additional services and resources are required to ensure those coming across are treated humanely and processed quickly, he said.
One reason Luke is in the race is to amplify his party’s visibility. “The Libertarian Party wants to show that they are out in the community, that they are vibrant and that they are running candidates,” he said
Franco, 66, of Lopez Island, is the former owner and operator of Madrona Farms, which for several years sold its produce at Pike Place Market.
He said he wants to focus on easing the homelessness crisis, reducing the national debt through responsible budgeting and passing universal health care.
He said Larsen has had a “lackluster 18 years.” And he angered the party’s progressives in the 2016 presidential primary when he declined their call for him to switch his superdelegate vote from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders.
“It was foolish what he did. It caused great animosity. If I get on the stage with him, you’ll hear about this,” he said.
Bird, 73, of Bellingham, is a retired corporate lawyer making his first try for federal office.
He said he is frustrated with the failure of Larsen and the rest in Congress to enact policies such as universal single-payer health care and debt-free college.
Bird also supports “strongly progressive taxes”, expanded Social Security benefits, a universal basic income and internet neutrality.
“The people that we vote for, Democrat or Republican, don’t stand up for the people who elected them,” he said. “They are following a different agenda than the one ordinary people want.”
Carlson, 26, of Marysville, is pursuing a career in teaching. A Democrat, he was a Snohomish County delegate for Sanders and that election incited his interest in public office.
”I realized that people are ready to stand up and fight for real solutions to the community’s major issues,” he said. “I felt it would be irresponsible to not take the risk.”
He supports a universal single-payer health care program, tuition-free public college and “a drastic investment” in low-income and public housing. Larsen, he said, is not fighting hard enough to make these happen.
“We have one of the most progressive districts in the country. It is time we had a representative who truly reflected those values,” he said.
Uncle Mover, 65, of Mill Creek, used to appear on ballots as Mike the Mover. A perennial candidate for county, state and federal office, he said when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 as Uncle Mover he “got great publicity” and decided to make the switch permanent.
He is listed on the ballot as preferring “Moderate GOP Party,” which makes him the only self-identified Republican in the race, though he’s not backed by the party. Still that might earn him enough votes to make it past the primary.
“I am a moderate, really. You need to compromise from time to time,” he said. “Being No. 2 would be pretty cool.”
In his candidate statement in the voter guide, Mover cited issues he wants to address including an alien presence on Earth and the distribution of opium through a U.S. airfield in Afghanistan.
As of July 1, Larsen had raised $781,148 in this election cycle and had $349,436 in available funds. He is the only candidate thus far who had collected enough money to require filing reports with the Federal Election Commission.