OLYMPIA – Kim Schrier has declared victory in a race for U.S. House in Washington state, becoming the first Democrat to win in the sprawling 8th District that stretches from Seattle’s eastern suburbs to central Washington farm country.
“Congress is broken, and people in the 8th District are ready for a community pediatrician to bring a dose of common sense to DC,” Schrier said in a statement.
Republican Dino Rossi posted a statement on his Facebook page conceding the race Wednesday night hours after the latest vote tallies were posted and Schrier maintained her lead with 53 percent of the vote.
The Associated Press has not yet called the race.
Schrier, a pediatrician and first-time candidate, and Rossi were vying for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Dave Reichert. Republicans have held the seat since it was created in the early 1980s.
“While this race did not end in the way you or I would have liked, I urge you to stay involved in the democratic process,” Rossi wrote. “We all need to stay informed, get involved, and hold public officials accountable for the decisions they make.”
Schrier, a Type 1 diabetic, said she wanted to run after Reichert voted to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Independent pollster Stuart Elway said Schrier’s lead in the open seat in the 8th Congressional District – which Clinton won but has been held by a Republican since it was created in the early 1980s – is “a classic pattern of the national trend.”
Rossi, a former state senator who had previous unsuccessful runs for governor and the U.S. Senate, had been leading in four of the district’s five counties, but Schrier was dominating in King, which has twice as many votes as the other four counties combined.
Tina Podlodowski, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, said Wednesday the numbers show that Democratic voters are moving to different parts of the state, “particularly into those suburbs and into the rural areas in the 8th.”
“I think what you’re seeing is a change from Seattle being the center of the universe for Democrats,” she said.
Elway, who had a poll last month showing support for Rossi spike after the nomination hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, said that “there was a real tremor in the force” right at the time his poll had showed Rossi ahead by 10.
“It didn’t sustain in the 8th District, but nationally that’s what energized a lot of Republicans,” he said.
Republican support stayed strong in the 5th Congressional District, where Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who ranks fourth in House leadership, captured more than 55 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger, Lisa Brown, a former state Senate leader.
The district, centered in Spokane, has not elected a Democrat since former House Speaker Tom Foley last won in 1992.
Another targeted Republican incumbent, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, also won her re-election bid in southwestern Washington, beating Democratic challenger, Carolyn Long, a political science professor at Washington State University’s campus in Vancouver.
In a written statement, Herrera Beutler thanked voters and called Long a “worthy opponent in this election.”
“I’ve always worked to be a public servant who solves local problems and makes our region’s priorities my priorities, and that will be my approach in this next Congress,” she wrote.
With Schrier’s win, there are now seven Democrats and four Republicans in the state’s House delegation. The other seven incumbents were all easily re-elected Tuesday night: Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse.
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