Rep. Dave Reichert (R)
Washington 8th District
The land east of Seattle’s Lake Washington half a century ago was quiet countryside. Orchards and vineyards flourished in the rich, moist soil just below the rise of the Cascades Mountains, while farms and broad pasturelands spread toward 14,410-foot Mount Rainier like a living green quilt. But as Seattle has grown over the years, people have crossed the pontoon bridge across Mercer Island to Bellevue and have made this area one of the most vibrant parts of metropolitan Seattle. With 121,000 people, almost a quarter of them of Asian descent, and enough office space to make it an edge city, Bellevue has grown out of the shadow of Seattle. Its tallest skyscraper has hit the city’s 450-foot height limit, a departure from the strip malls and parking lots that that defined downtown a quarter century ago. While downtown Seattle specialized in banks and law firms and trading companies, Bellevue and other communities in Overlake specialized in high-tech start-ups. Redmond is the headquarters of Microsoft, and dozens of other firms here help make it one of America’s leading high-tech centers.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 8th Congressional District of Washington takes in most of the eastern edge of metro Seattle. It includes most of Bellevue, Mercer Island and the affluent suburbs on Lake Washington—Medina, Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, Beaux Arts. It includes Bill Gates’ $60 million, 66,000-square-foot high-tech home with its trampoline room, video walls that can be electronically programmed with art from the world’s great museums, and a garage large enough to hold 30 cars. According to the King County Assessor’s office, annual property taxes on the house exceed $1 million. The 8th also includes the suburbs to the south in King and Pierce counties. It goes east to the crest of the Cascades Mountains and encompasses all of Mount Rainier and one of the nation’s last inland old-growth rain forests. This is the most affluent district in Washington, rivaled only by the 1st District in suburban Seattle. Politically, it is a swing district. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry won it 51% to 48%, and in 2008, Democrat Barack Obama won it 57%-42%.
Rep. Dave Reichert (R)
Elected: 2004, 3rd term.
Born: Aug. 29, 1950, Detroit Lakes, MN .
Education: Concordia Lutheran Col., A.A. 1970.
Family: Married (Julie); 3 children.
Military career: Air Force Reserve, 1971-76.
Elected office: King Cnty. Sheriff, 1997-2004.
Professional Career: King Cnty. police officer, 1972-1997.
The congressman from the 8th District is Dave Reichert, a Republican elected in 2004. Reichert was born in Detroit Lakes, Minn., but his family moved to the Seattle area a year later. He graduated from Concordia Lutheran College in Portland and then joined the Air Force Reserves. He worked for 32 years in the King County sheriff’s office and was elected sheriff in 1997. He was a national leader on gun-crime reduction and methamphetamine prevention. During the riots that accompanied the 1999 international trade meeting in Seattle, he criticized city leaders and the police force for inadequate preparation. He gained national attention for his prominent role in capturing Gary Ridgway, the “Green River Killer” who had terrorized the Seattle area with a two-decade murder spree that left 48 women dead. After Ridgway's capture in 2001, Reichert was featured on national television shows and in documentaries, and he published a book about the experience, Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer.
|Dave Reichert (R)||191,568||(53%)||($2,852,514)|
|Darcy Burner (D)||171,358||(47%)||($4,462,884)|
|David Reichert (R)||74,140||(49%)|
|Darcy Burner (D)||68,010||(45%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (51%), 2004 (52%)
When Republican Rep. Jennifer Dunn announced that she was retiring after 12 years in the House, Republicans actively recruited Reichert to run. He defeated three opponents in the September Republican primary, winning the nomination with 43% of the vote. The leading Democrat was Dave Ross, a longtime Seattle radio talk-show host who stayed on the air until July. He won the September primary with 48% of the vote.
In the general election, Reichert argued that local law-enforcement agencies should receive more money and equipment for homeland security. Sounding like a talk-show host, Ross said that he wanted to be the eyes and ears of the public, checking “into what’s going on, who’s making the trades, where the money is going and whether it’s being wisely spent.” The national parties stormed in, spending well over $5 million and organizing visits by prominent leaders. Each candidate tried to portray the other as lacking in public-policy experience and holding views too extreme for the swing district. Both Seattle newspapers, with strong liberal traditions, endorsed Ross for his greater familiarity with issues and suggested that Reichert was too conservative for the district. But Reichert won 52%-47%.
When Reichert arrived in the House, Republicans were in the majority. He backed New York Rep. Peter King’s bid to chair the Homeland Security Committee and was rewarded by King with the chairmanship of the Emergency Preparedness Subcommittee, making him the only freshman in his class to chair a subcommittee. He won enactment of a bill that established standards for interoperable communications. He also established his independence from the GOP, a sound political move given his politically divided district. He voted to override President George W. Bush’s veto of the stem-cell-research bill and voted against allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In the 110th Congress (2007-08), Reichert took liberal positions on many environmental issues. He supported tougher fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks and advocated expanding the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area in the Cascade Mountains. His positions earned him praise from the pro-environmental-protection League of Conservation Voters. He also sponsored a successful bill to fund programs fostering intelligence sharing with state and local governments.
National Democrats targeted Reichert when he was up for re-election the first time in 2006. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran radio ads against him a full 18 months before Election Day. In a competitive district where dissatisfaction with Bush would likely be a major liability, Reichert was unapologetic about inviting him to the district: “I know it’s controversial to have the president come to the northwest part of the United States. I don’t care. He’s the president.” Former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner, a political novice, was the Democratic nominee. She called Reichert a “Bush Republican” and “Rubber Stamp Reichert.” The candidates each spent $3 million, and together, the national parties poured in more than $4 million. Reichert won 51%-49%.
In 2008, Burner was back for a rematch. She outraised Reichert $4.3 million to $3 million, but he won 53%-47%. During the campaign, he had asked House Republicans to give him a seat on the Appropriations Committee to help guarantee his re-election. He was instead named to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in early 2009.