Veteran Washington State Republican Congressman Dave Reichert announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election, igniting speculation about a possible replacement in a district that ranges from western Washington to central eastern Washington and could be literally a big money battleground in 2018.
Reichert, the former King County sheriff who was first elected in 2004, succeeding the late Jennifer Dunn, made the announcement with a 598-word statement expressing his appreciation to his constituents for their support over the course of seven terms.
Before he ran for Congress, Reichert had been eyed as a possible gubernatorial candidate, but he chose a path to “the other Washington,” instead. During his tenure, he worked to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, was involved with trade negotiations, and was keenly interested in any law enforcement measures that came before Congress.
Here is his announcement:
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the greatest state in the world’s greatest nation for nearly five decades. First as a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves for six years, then in the King County Sheriff’s Office for 33 years, and most recently as a seven term Member of Congress. I am humbled to have been trusted by the people of Washington’s 8th District to be their voice in Congress; it is an honor I have not taken lightly. Each and every day, I have committed to serving the 8th District and our nation with the heart of a servant.
After spending time during the August work period with family and friends, reflecting on the past, discussing the future, and celebrating another birthday, I have decided this will be my last term and I will not run for reelection in November, 2018. It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me. I have spent my entire career and devoted my life to service. I see this not just as a job, but as a calling – a calling I will not walk away from.
Washington’s 8th Congressional District is home to the most talented people, a first-class business community, and a breathtaking natural landscape that is second to none. In my congressional career, I have always strived to improve the daily lives of my constituents and preserve the majestic beauty of our region. Whether it was through my work to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, improve our foster care system and combat sex trafficking, or secure equipment and resources for our first responders, I have taken this honor and responsibility seriously.
Early on, the importance of trade to the region was clear. From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world. Now, at this critical time, serving as the first Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade from Washington State, I remain steadfast in my commitment to Washington’s workers, manufacturers and growers – the best in the world.
Representing over 700,000 constituents takes a team. My team, many of which have been with me since the beginning, have served our community with the heart of a servant, putting constituents before themselves. Day in and out they have helped constituents receive government funds owed to them, get answers when their questions were bogged down in government bureaucracy, and acquire necessary equipment and services for our veterans. I am immensely proud of the work my staff has done.
This decision has been difficult to say the least but the love for my family ultimately guided me. I look forward to spending time with my wife, Julie, our three grown children and six grandchildren. They have made great sacrifices and I owe them not only my gratitude but more time together.
As I finish my last term in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will continue to fight for hard working families, small business and all that makes our community great. I am deeply humbled by the support the people have shown since being elected in 1996 to Sheriff. Every election has been an amazing honor. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this opportunity. God has blessed my family, my team and me as we have served.
Thank you and God Bless America.”
Immediately upon his announcement, speculation about who might run to replace him from the Republican Party began. One name that quickly came up was Dino Rossi, former state senator and budget expert whose popularity with his followers has remained strong since a still-questionable loss in the 2004 gubernatorial race.
There are also several Democrats lined up to try for the seat, which has already caused some western Washington liberals to begin salivating with the prospect of putting another Democrat on the Evergreen State delegation. Their problem will be in convincing the more conservative constituents in Ellensburg and Wenatchee that they can represent eastside interests, which will be a challenge, especially on such subjects as the economy, environment and guns.
Democrats had a big target on Reichert because he represents one of the districts where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump last fall, according to KOMO, the ABC affiliate in Seattle.
Reichert’s 8th District has been “reliably Republican,” according to KUOW, but Reichert has been more centrist than other Republicans in the state delegation. He has taken positions that infuriated conservatives, such as voting against the repeal of Obamacare, even after voting the bill out of committee, KUOW noted.
But at 67 – he was born in August 1950 – he is taking a step that some of his colleagues on Capitol Hill in both parties should probably have considered long ago: retiring from office.
This raises an interesting question that many people may not consider. At what point does someone simply get tired of being told to “keep up the good work?” For some people, and Reichert has earned the right to be one of them, continued work may not be the desirable option.
His announcement now is good timing, as it allows possible successors to gear up for a campaign that promises to be brutal, and brutally expensive because Democrats badly want the 8th District.