Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, will not seek re-election to an eighth term in 2018 — a move that will embolden Democrats who already have been lining up to flip his 8th Congressional District seat and try to regain control of the U.S. House.
Reichert, who recently turned 67, said in a news release Wednesday he’d made the decision after spending time with family and friends “reflecting on the past, discussing the future, and celebrating another birthday.”
“It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me,” Reichert said. He added that he sees public service as “a calling I will not walk away from.”
His decision to leave Congress is likely to vault the 8th District contest into one of the most competitive House races of the midterm election cycle, according to some national political analysts.
“If you could have asked Democrats before the cycle ‘which Republican incumbent in Congress do you want to retire?’ Reichert would probably be at or near the top of the list,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan elections and politics newsletter published by the University of Virginia. “This immediately becomes one of the top Democratic pickup opportunities in the country.”
The 8th District, which runs from the eastern side of King and Pierce counties across the Interstate 90 corridor to Chelan County, has been a “swing district on paper,” Kondik said, but Reichert’s popularity has kept it in Republican hands. The district went narrowly for Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election.
Still, Republicans are projecting confidence about holding on to the seat in 2018.
“Washington’s 8th District is a seat that has chosen Republicans for over a decade. With a bitter and expensive primary fight already confronting Democrats in this seat, Republicans are ready to elect another common-sense congressman like Dave Reichert, not another rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi,” said Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a statement Wednesday.
In state Republican circles, talk was already rampant about GOP candidates who might seek to succeed Reichert.
State Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, who ran twice for governor and once for U.S. Senate, is among the better-known names under discussion. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday morning.
“I think Dino is kind of the name that comes to everybody’s mind, given how many times he’s run before,” said state Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn.
With congressional seats opening up rarely, Stokesbary predicted a crowded field of candidates. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of people who want to step up and run for the seat,” he said.
Stokesbary said “it’s too early to say” whether he’d join the candidate field himself, saying he’d want to talk with his wife, and consult with Reichert as well.