Kim Schrier (left) and Dino Rossi

Kim Schrier (left) and Dino Rossi

Dems try to flip Washington’s 8th District for the first time

Dr. Kim Schrier is challenging Dino Rossi in the congressional district east of Seattle.

By Sally Ho / Associated Press

ISSAQUAH — Democrats are trying to flip an open U.S. House seat in Washington state that’s been in GOP hands since it was created nearly three decades ago, running a political newcomer and national party favorite against a well-known Republican in a race that could be critical to controlling the chamber.

As part of a surge of women seeking office for the first time, Dr. Kim Schrier’s candidacy will test how far a “blue wave” can go in the only congressional district that substantially blends Washington’s wide-ranging political spectrum, from the ultraliberal far eastern Seattle suburbs to solidly conservative rural areas.

Millions of dollars of outside money has poured in to the 8th Congressional District, which is one of two dozen districts nationwide held by the GOP but whose voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. It’s one of the tightest midterm races and a critical potential pickup for Democrats trying to take the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since 2010.

Republican Rep. David Reichert is retiring from a seat he’s held since 2005.

Schrier, a 50-year-old pediatrician and Type 1 diabetic, said she was moved to run after Reichert voted to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law. She has made health care a signature campaign issue.

“People relate to the fact that I’m ticked off when our government tries to take our health care away, and I believe health care is a human right, and that is just plain wrong,” Schrier said.

She faces Dino Rossi, a former state lawmaker, who has carried the district in three statewide races. Rossi has been on local ballots more than 10 times but hasn’t won a general election in 18 years.

The district created after the 1980 census has never sent a Democrat to the House but is anchored in a corner of the deep-blue Seattle region.

“The 8th District is a lot more sensitive to public sentiment so that’s the dynamic we’re seeing. It’s playing out,” said Stuart Elway, an independent pollster. “If there’s not a blue wave, it’s going to be close. If there’s a red wave, he’s going to win.”

What Schrier may have in her favor is voter distribution. More than 82 percent of the district’s voters live in places Clinton carried, mostly in King County, where Seattle is located and which overwhelmingly supported her.

Rossi, a 58-year-old whose background is in commercial real estate sales, has wide name recognition and is perhaps best known for losing the country’s closest race for governor in 2004. He also had a leading role in balancing the state’s budget 15 years ago and most recently served two stints as an appointed Republican fill-in in the state Senate.

“These folks know me pretty well, but I spend a lot of time knocking on doors just to remind them why they liked me in the first place,” Rossi said.

If elected, Rossi said he would work to connect the parties and seek a place on the House’s chief tax-writing Ways and Means committee. Rossi campaigns as a “fiscal conservative with a social conscience” while noting his work with Special Olympics.

In his last campaign for office — a 2010 matchup against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray — Rossi was endorsed by the Family Research Council, an anti-gay and religious conservative group. He also has signed the tea party-backed “Contract From America,” which favors a flat income tax, more oil exploration and strict limits on federal spending. Rossi says those groups aren’t involved in his current campaign.

Rossi calls Schrier a product of an anti-Trump movement, slamming her lack of leadership experience and painting her top legislative priority of expanding Medicare as a “government takeover of health care” and lacking in funding details. He said he would support future efforts to repeal Obama’s health care law and defund Planned Parenthood.

Schrier said allowing Medicare to be a public buy-in option will allow for true competition and effectively pay for itself. She calls Rossi career politician, who will “rubber stamp” the Trump agenda on health care and environmental issues, but highlights where she agrees with the GOP.

She supports Trump’s major infrastructure plan but wants to negotiate more federal investment to promise construction jobs quickly. She also supports the middle-class tax cuts in Trump’s signature tax code overhaul but wants to close corporate tax loopholes.

For independent voters like Maggie Lemenager, she said she’s leaning toward Rossi because the economy has soared under GOP control. The 65-year-old retired teacher from Renton said she voted for Trump in 2016.

“The economy is the big one,” Lemenager said of her priorities.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

Breadson John, 8, was found safe in Missouri on Wednesday, Feb. 21, after going missing from Vancouver in June 2022. (FBI)
Vancouver boy, 8, missing since June, found in Missouri

Breadson John was found safe in Jasper County Missouri after being missing for 8 months.

Clay Siegall, cofounder and former CEO of Seagen. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
Why prosecutors say former Seagen CEO wasn’t charged after arrest

Edmonds prosecutors said there were contradictory statements on the night Seagen ex-CEO Clay Siegall was accused of domestic violence.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Seattle.
Deputy shot, wounded in Seattle during eviction, 1 dead

A King County Sheriff’s deputy was shot Monday and a person inside the residence was later found dead.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Washington state.
Man pleads guilty to stalking Washington state lawmaker

Isaiah Long, 34, of Bremerton, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony stalking Rep. Michelle Caldier.

Amtrak restores full daily train service to Vancouver, B.C.

Amtrak has restarted direct trips between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Leonard Cobb, co-founder of state’s first Medic One, dies at 96

An incident more than 60 years ago helped prompt creation of the groundbreaking emergency medical service.

A Value Village store is seen Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Edmonds, Wash. The company that operates 300 Value Village, Savers and other thrift stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia is suing Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, saying his office has violated its rights by demanding $3.2 million to settle a three-year investigation. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Court rejects deception charges against Savers Value Village

The Washington state Supreme Court handed the thrift store chain Savers Value Village a unanimous win Thursday.

Seattle Council Member Kshama Sawant speaks to supporters and opponents of a proposed ordinance to add caste to Seattle's anti-discrimination laws at a rally at Seattle City Hall, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Seattle. Sawant proposed the ordinance. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Seattle becomes first U.S. city to ban caste discrimination

The Seattle City Council on Tuesday added caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws, becoming the first city to pass such a law outside South Asia.

New Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks during an inauguration ceremony for city officials on Jan. 6, 2014, in Seattle. One of Sawant’s earliest memories of the caste system was hearing her grandfather – a man she “otherwise loved very much” – utter a slur to summon their lower-caste maid. Now an elected official in a city thousands of miles from India, she has proposed an ordinance to add caste to Seattle’s anti-discrimination laws. (AP Photo / Elaine Thompson, File)
Seattle considers historic law barring caste discrimination

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant wants to add caste to the city’s anti-discrimination laws

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
Judge rejects bid to nullify Boeing deal over Max crashes

District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth said federal law doesn’t give courts the power to oversee agreements that prosecutors make with defendants.

FILE - The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Boeing is reporting a money-losing quarter as both its civilian-airplane division and the defense business are struggling. Boeing said Wednesday, April 27, 2022,  that it lost $1.24 billion in the first quarter and took large write-downs for several programs.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 finance and HR jobs in 2023

Boeing plans to outsource about a third of the eliminated positions to Tata Consulting Services in Bengaluru, India.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Washington’s low-income tax credit available for first time

Up to $1,200 is now available for thousands of low-income working Washington residents, thanks to a 2008 law that has finally been funded.