Editor's note: In the 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
State: Washington 8th – Rep. Dave Reichert (R) is seeking a fourth term.
Date of primary: August 17, 2010
Location: Eastern metropolitan Seattle
Days until Election Day: 61
(CNN) - Although much of the discussion of the 2010 midterms has focused thus far on vulnerable House Democrats in competitive or GOP-leaning districts, there are a handful of districts represented by Republicans where national Democrats hope to play some offense. One such Republican incumbent whom Democrats are targeting this year is Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington State.
Now seeking his fourth term, Reichert is one of a handful of Republicans representing a district that Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama carried in 2004 and 2008. He was first elected in 2004 after serving 32 years in the King County sheriff's office, the last seven as sheriff. He defeated Democratic nominee Dave Ross, a radio talk show host, 52 percent to 47 percent. As a freshman and sophomore member, he became a top Democratic target in 2006 and 2008, when he twice faced-off against former Microsoft executive Darcy Burner. Both contests were close, but Reichert prevailed in the end. He won 51 percent to 49 percent in 2006 and slightly improved his showing in 2008, winning 53 percent to 47 percent for Burner.
As a member of Congress, Reichert's voting record reflects his position as a Republican in a Democratic-leaning district. In 2009, he was the ninth most likely Republican to support President Obama's position on key votes, according to a CQ analysis. Most notably, Reichert bucked his party and voted with Democrats in support of the "cap and trade" energy plan. In fact, he voted with Obama 56 percent of the time last year and supported President George W. Bush's position only 53 percent of the time in 2008 and 46 percent of the time in 2007. Reichert did stick with his party and voted no on other major Democratic initiatives, such as health care reform, the Obama economic stimulus plan, and Wall Street reform.
The Democratic nominee is Suzan DelBene, a veteran of the tech sector who, like Burner, is also a former Microsoft executive. As a result of Washington State's unusual "top two" primary system, Reichert and DelBene competed against each other on the same ballot in the August 17 primary. Reichert placed first with 47 percent of the vote while DelBene came in a distant second with 27 percent. Seven other candidates of various parties divided up the remaining vote. Many Republicans have noted that Republican candidates in the district received a total of 93,785 votes in the primary, more than the combined 63,751 votes that Democratic candidates garnered.
Financially, the two candidates have been fairly evenly matched. Reichert had just over $1 million in cash on hand at the end of July, while DelBene had $916,000. DelBene trailed slightly in overall fundraising, with $1.3 million in contributions over the course of the campaign compared to $1.8 million for Reichert, but she has narrowed that gap by loaning her campaign $350,000 from personal funds. Reichert had outspent DelBene by the start of August, $1 million to $782,000, but the Democrat has demonstrated thus far that she has the ability to raise and spend enough to wage a competitive bid.
Washington's 8th district stretches from the edge of the Seattle metro area to the Cascade Range that divides the eastern and western parts of the state. It's a sprawling territory, but most of the population is concentrated in the edge cities near Lake Washington, including Bellevue and Redmond, the home of Microsoft. Economically, this is a very prosperous district - home to numerous multi-million dollar mansions, with the most famous one belonging to Bill Gates. Although well-to-do suburbs typically trend Republican, the eighth district has pockets of Democratic strength due to the proximity to the liberal enclaves in Seattle and the complexities of politics in the Pacific Northwest. Kerry won the district in 2004, 51 percent to 48 percent. In 2008, Obama won with 57 percent of the vote.
Based just on the demographics of the district, Reichert would be well-advised to expect a competitive race at the start of any election cycle, regardless of which way the prevailing national political winds may be blowing at the time. In many ways, this year should be no different. He has drawn a strong and well-funded challenger in DelBene. The district leans Democratic in presidential elections, and Reichert himself has never surpassed the 53-percent mark. Nonetheless, he was able to survive the huge Democratic wave years of 2006 and 2008, when dozens of GOP incumbents in far more conservative districts were ousted. And he has carefully cultivated a voting record that helps to inoculate him against charges that he is too conservative for the district. While Reichert's recent track record at the polls would suggest that he will have another tough contest on his hands, this year he won't be swimming against a national tide favoring Democrats.
- CNN Polling Director Keating Holland contributed to this report