GRANITE FALLS — Democratic Congresswoman Kim Schrier is in a hot seat.
Control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year could come down to her duel with Republican Matt Larkin in Washington’s 8th Congressional District next month.
Republicans need to gain at least five seats in electoral battles across the country on Nov. 8 to retake the majority from Democrats. They view the one Schrier is sitting in as a potential pick-up.
And thanks to redistricting, roughly 47,000 voters in Snohomish County will get a say in how things turn out.
The redrawn 8th District is spread across parts of six counties — Snohomish, King, Pierce, Chelan, Kittitas and Douglas.
In Snohomish County, Darrington, Granite Falls and communities along U.S. 2 such as Sultan, Gold Bar are in it. So too is part of Monroe.
Schrier won the August primary garnering 48% against 10 opponents. Larkin got 17%, beating out two other notable Republicans in the race, Reagan Dunn, a King County Council member, and Jesse Jensen, who lost to Schrier in 2020. The margin in that contest was roughly 15,000 votes.
In August, Schrier only collected 38% to Larkin’s 28.5% in Snohomish County. When totals for Dunn (12.1%) and Jensen (9.4%) are added in, the top GOP candidates accounted for half the votes cast in this sliver of the district.
Schrier, 54, of Sammamish, is seeking a third term. When she was first elected in 2018 she ended a long streak of Republicans. It had been in GOP hands since the early 1980s.
Schrier worked two decades as a pediatrician, a career she pursued after earning a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics at University of California, Berkeley.
“I found it absolutely interesting and challenging,” she said of physics. “But I wanted more human interaction.”
She’s campaigning on her record. She said she’s had 14 bills signed since entering office, eight by former President Donald Trump and six by President Joe Biden.
She’s also making sure voters know her role in supporting and passing major legislation the past two years that is bringing millions of dollars into the district for various public and private programs and services.
“I’ve been in every corner of the district. I’ve delivered in every corner of the district,” she said.
For Snohomish County, she said she’s heard lots about ways to ease congestion and improve safety on U.S. 2. With the rainy season near, she said she’s heard concerns about the potential for damaging landslides in the area scarred in the Bolt Creek fire.
As a member of the House agriculture committee, she said she can give voice to local farmers’ desires when Congress crafts the 2023 farm bill.
One thing on her to-do list if re-elected is making preschool available for free for all 3- and 4-year-olds. While there are early childhood education programs now, like Head Start, not every young child has access to them for free, she said.
Another topic — one that has defined many of this year’s elections — is abortion. She has backed a House Democrat bill to guarantee access to abortion care services nationwide. It’s in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and longstanding federal protections for abortion.
“I am the only pro-choice doctor in Congress. I would like to make Roe the law of the land,” she said.
She’s hit Larkin hard on this, saying his support of a national ban on abortion without exceptions “is extreme and dangerous and wildly out of step.”
Larkin said he is “pro-life” and looks for ways to affirm the “miracle of birth.” He demurred on how he’d vote on a national ban. He said it is “hypothetical” right now.
“I’m very happy to leave it at the state level,” he said. “I think people should be able to lobby their legislator.”
Larkin, 41, of Woodinville, is a part-owner and attorney for his family’s business, Romac Industries, a manufacturer of waterworks pipes, clamps, couplings and more. Two years ago, he made an unsuccessful challenge of Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
In this campaign, “making crime illegal again” is one of his major slogans.
“People have an overwhelming feeling that crime is going unpunished,” he said. Congress, he said, needs to do a better job securing the southern border to stave off the drug flow.
One of the first things he said he’d do if elected is vote for a different House speaker. He’s hoping it’ll be a Republican. And if the GOP is in the majority, Larkin said he’d push to reverse some provisions of recently passed legislation. One example, he said, is to halt the planned hiring of thousands of IRS employees.
“We need to rein in the spending” that’s contributing to the nation’s high inflation, he said.
Another concern he wants to address is what he called wage inflation. While not an issue for Congress, he did say Washington’s minimum wage — which will be $15.74 an hour starting Jan. 1 — should be closer to the federal hourly minimum of $7.25.
“Our company pays fair wages. We’re staying put,” he said. “It is very, very hard to be a business owner in Washington right now.”
Schrier and Larkin will take part in a debate at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Central Washington University. It will be live-streamed by several television stations.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;
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