September 2nd, 2010
08:04 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN 100: Dems go on the offense in Washington 8th

 The CNN 100 takes a look at the top 100 House races, from now until Election Day.

The CNN 100 takes a look at the top 100 House races, from now until Election Day.

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

Filed under: CNN 100
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    I do not care about what party you belong to! "We the Peopleā€ got screwed again this time we need to make all of them pay with their jobs.

    Guess what Congress "You Are Fired!"

    This fall vote "No to incumbents"

    Fire All incumbents!

    Congress allowed the American people to lose their jobs, their life's savings, and their retirement and NOW we are in double dip recession. And then made the American people pay to bailout the ones who were responsible for the crime.
    All while supporting the special interests, lobbyists, Big business and the themselves.
    You know what Congress, welcome to the ranks of the unemployed.

    September 2, 2010 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  2. Facts are not fair to the GOP

    As we approach this Labor Day weekend, and celebrate all we have because of American workers, let's not forget the republican efforts to ship jobs overseas, and their anti worker platform, which will destroy the middle class, and the items we can buy at Wal-mart that are made in sweat shops using child labor. Buy American!

    September 2, 2010 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  3. Liz the First

    Dems need to go on offense all over this country. they are literally fighting for our survival as a first-world nation. the average American always does better under Democrats. this is a historical fact. one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Americans are never going to do better under republicans and it's time they stopped electing the people who are only interested in making the rich richer.

    September 2, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  4. Roy

    Good luck in your race Mr. Reichert!

    September 2, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. Observer

    A major problem for DelBene, other than her complete lack of any political experience or involvement to date and the fact that the only reason she's viable is she's a "Microsoft millionaire" so can fund her own campaign, is she forgot to vote in many elections held over the past decade – or didn't deem it important to vote. Even though Reichert is a RINO as noted in this article, it will be hard for people to support DelBene when she looks like she's just "job shopping" and hasn't shown enough interest in politics to even exercise the basic citizen right of voting in general elections.

    September 2, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. scott

    the democrats need to put money n the alaska senate race and get out of the missori senate race they got no chance there. the rasmussen got alaska senate race very close.what people dont know is that the democrats got a chance 2 take the state senate in alaska also the democ are only down 11 to 9 in the state senate in alaska and only down 23 to 18 in the state house in alaska.the democrats been making some inroads n the thank u palin 4 beating the republican senater there idoit

    September 2, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. obozo

    All Rep. Riechert has to do is ask his dimocratic opponent in front of th voters, "Will you vote to keep Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the house?" Hope? Change? HA!!!!

    September 2, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. cj

    Bobby Bright from the 2nd District in Alabama is not a typical Dem. He has nothing to worry about. He takes care of this district and worries about the people not Washington and his party. I use to vote mainly by party, but its about the person for the job and Bobby Bright is the right person for the job and will keep his. As for the rest of them that rubber stamp Nancy and Reid they should go. I know the Bobby Bright doesn't do that and his record speaks for itself.

    September 2, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |