The Washington 8th Congressional District is home to the hottest open US House seat race in the Pacific Northwest.
This district has been Republican for decades, but with incumbent Dave Reichert (R) retiring, Democrats sense an opportunity. Washington, a state that has not gone red since the Ronald Reagan landslide of 1984, has elected Republicans in state and local races. What will be tested here in the 8th District is whether or not traditionally GOP areas east of Seattle are ready to abandon the Republican Party.
2018 Washington 8th Congressional District Race: Our Rating
Washington-08 is rated as a Democratic GAIN (weak lean) as of October 7, 2018.
You can see each and every one of the current 2018 US House ratings at its special page.
Washington 8th Congressional District Profile
The 8th District of Washington stretches from the Seattle suburbs into the center of the state. As it has elected Republicans, clearly it does not touch the borders of Seattle, but a hefty amount of King County lies within its boundaries. It comes close to, but does not encompass any of, Tacoma as well.
Washington’s 8th includes locales such as Sammamish, Maple Valley, Enumclaw, and Wenatchee. Lake Chelan in north central Washington State is also located entirely within the 8th District.
Dave Reichert was elected to this seat in 2004. At the time, he was the Sheriff of King County, a non-partisan post. While most of his runs in this seat were close calls, his last three came with much more solid margins of victory. His predecessor was the late Jennifer Dunn, who won all six of her terms with ease beginning in 1992.
Why, might you ask, Reichert’s last three wins more sizeable? Redistricting is the answer. In the 2000s, the Washington 8th District was closer to Seattle, including Bellevue and Mercer Island. The new configuration pulled it a little farther away.
Like California, Washington also has a top-two primary system. The two highest-performing candidates in the primary, regardless of party, advance to the general election.
2018 Washington 8th Congressional District Candidates
Republican: Dino Rossi. Rossi’s is a name that should be well-known to Washington political observers. He first made headlines for running in the historically close 2004 Washington governor’s race, a race he lost by just 133 votes and was marked by multiple recounts and threats of court challenges. Rossi would run for statewide office again a few more times and not succeed, but he did serve two additional brief stints as a Washington state senator.
Democratic: Kim Schrier. The Democratic candidate in this race is seeking elective office for the first time. Schrier is a pediatrician by day who received her education in California.
2018 Washington 8th Congressional District Jungle Primary Results
All candidates ran in the August 7 jungle primary. The clear first-place candidate was Rossi at just over 43 percent of the vote. Schrier finished second with 18.7 percent, taking that position over fellow Democrat Jason Rittereiser by a little over 1,100 votes.
Democratic candidates combined for 50.2 percent of the vote in the primary round.
Why We’re Watching The 2018 Washington 8th Congressional District Race
This district was redrawn to be made more Republican less than a decade ago, and now the GOP is going to struggle to hold it. Blame the increasingly bluer politics of Washington, Reichert’s retirement, the current political situation, or all of the above.
Rossi was probably the best candidate the Republicans could have gotten in this district. He has run big campaigns before and is a known political quantity. If he loses in November, like most of the rest of the time for him, it won’t be by much.
Reichert would have had difficulty as well getting re-elected in the 8th District in this environment. Needless to say, 2018 is shaping up to be a challenging year for the GOP. Now, if they were to lose this seat and the 5th District, which is even less Democratic, that would be a very bad night for Republicans. Yet, this one is very close.
Had the GOP not found a candidate with political cachet, the story might be different. Make no mistake, however: Dino Rossi can absolutely win this election and prevent a Democratic gain. Further, nobody should be surprised if it happens. The problem is that this is a district in a blue state, and Hillary Clinton carried it. A bastion of conservatism it is not, but the GOP will be running very hard here until election day to keep it.