With a herd of hungry Democrats having already entered the race to replace retiring Congressman Dave Reichert in Washington State’s 8th Congressional District, veteran Republican state lawmaker Dino Rossi has thrown his hat in the ring as well.
This is a race that will get lots of national attention because of what is up for grabs. Democrats want the district badly.
Rossi’s name came up almost immediately after Reichert, the former King County Sheriff and seven-term congressman, announced his plan to step down next year. He is up against a field of Democrats including former King County Deputy Prosecutor Jason Rittereiser, Issaquah Councilmember Tola Marts, Dr. Kim Schrier, Amazon software developer Toby Whitney, and businesswoman Mona Das.
Rossi is “from around here,” as is Rittereiser, who was born and raised in Ellensburg. That may count in a race for a district that has been safely Republican and stretches across the Cascades to encompass a fair amount of rural Central Washington.
As radio host John Carlson noted in a December 2012 Crosscut article, Rossi is well-known for his ability to reach across the aisle “to produce a no-new taxes budget with key Democrats.” He lost a nail-biter race for governor against Christine Gregoire in 2004 – which he actually won twice, on election night and again at recount, but a second recount brought him up 133 votes short, fueling the theory that Democrats will demand recounts until they get the results they desire – and again in 2008. The latter campaign found Rossi warning of a looming $2.5 billion budget gap that Gregoire dismissed as “gross exaggerations,” Carlson recalled at the time.
“Not exactly,” Carlson wrote. “Five months after the election the shortfall was closer to $5 billion.”
While Democrats branded Rossi a fibber, it turned out that his real fault was under-estimating the money troubles Washington faced. This time around, they will demonize him as an extremist, which he is not. He just knows how to balance a budget, a concept that Congressional Democrats seem to have a hard time embracing.
Money isn’t the only issue in this race. Seattle liberals desperately want the state’s entire west side to be represented by Democrats. But what does that mean for the west side’s gun owners? Who would speak for them in Congress? They have heard no understanding, much less representation, from Senators Patty Murray or Maria Cantwell.
Consider this: Washington has approximately 590,000 active concealed pistol licensees. Of those, more than 101,000 reside in King County, which takes up a fair portion of the 8th District. Part of the District includes Chelan County, where there are more than 8,100 CPLs. It encompasses Kittitas County, with more than 6,200 CPLs. And it reaches into Pierce County, with a whopping 78,698 CPLs at last report on Sept. 1. Nearly one-sixth of all the CPL holders in the state live in the 8th District, and if they vote to protect their voice on Capitol Hill as well as their pocketbooks, that could make a significant difference.
State Democrat Party Chair Tina Podlodowski has declared, “It’s time we flip the 8th.” That’s liable to be a pretty hard sell to people in Cle Elum, Wenatchee, Cashmere, Chelan, Liberty, Easton, Peshastin and even Leavenworth. People in those communities are not exactly locked into Democrat dogma.
Watch the 8th District race attract a lot of attention and liberal dollars. Don’t be surprised if Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown Action fund money shows up in the Public Disclosure Commission reports.