NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Meet the 2018 contenders in Washington’s 8th Congressional District: Shannon Hader

Democrats see the upcoming midterm elections as a critical opportunity flip the U.S. House and subject the Trump regime to badly needed congressional oversight.

To accomplish this goal, Democrats need to capture at least twenty-four Republican held seats. With over thirty Republicans having chosen to retire rather than seek reelection, and with Trump dragging down the Republican brand, the party hopes to capitalize — especially in purple districts that voted for Hillary Clinton last cycle.

One of these purple districts is Washington’s 8th, where Democratic candidate Shannon Hader is hoping to secure one of the two spots on the November general election ballot. Incumbent Republican Dave Reichert has chosen to retire from Congress after serving seven terms, which means WA-08 is up for grabs.

Hader is one of three credible Democratic candidates who have stepped forward to run in the 8th. (The others are pediatrician Kim Schrier and prosecutor Jason Rittereiser.) All three are vying for Congress alongside Dino Rossi, a two-time state senator who has the backing of the Washington State Republican Party and the Republican establishment. Rossi is making his fourth bid for higher office; his previous three attempts (in 2004, 2008, and 2010) were all unsuccessful.

Hader is a fifth-generation Auburn native with a distinguished career in public health. She most recently served our country as director of the Division of Global HIV & TB at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hader has served under four different federal administrations (including the current one) and is running for Congress because she feels that the federal government we have now is dysfunctional and broken — as is evident from each day’s headlines.

“I bring a lifetime of professional experience of getting things done with [federal] resources and I think we need to start getting those things done for the district,” she told the Northwest Progressive Institute in an interview last month.

Hader’s experience with the CDC is what she says distinguishes her from the other candidates in the race. “I am the only candidate in this race, including Dino Rossi, that brings that proven track record of delivering results that matter to people’s lives with federal resources and with urgency. I don’t think we can wait to have somebody figure out how the federal government works.”

One example of the results Hader has delivered with federal resources is the enormous progress she has achieve in helping the CDC combat HIV globally.

Hader ran a program that encompassed around two thousand people, forty-five countries, and a $2.4 billion budget. Now in its fifteenth year, Hader explains that the CDC’s global HIV program has provided twenty-one million people with lifesaving HIV treatment, and has helped to reduce the cost of treatment drugs from approximately $8,500 per person per year down to less than $100.

Hader believes her work with the CDC’s global HIV program gives her an edge against the other candidates in the international and diplomatic arena.

“About half of my professional career has been global and most of that has been working in conjunction with our Department of State, our ambassadors overseas, and abroad working with foreign governments,” she says.

She stresses the need to provide oversight for federal institutions like the Department of State, especially when it comes to trade relationships, where Trump’s erratic foreign policy stances are negatively impacting 8th District’s export markets in tech, agriculture, and manufacturing. Trump has declared that trade wars are good and easy to win, and is plunging headfirst into one with China, which is already imposing retaliatory tariffs on Washington-grown crops like cherries, apples, and wheat, which are crucial to the economy of the 8th District.

Hader’s work within the CDC also gave her the opportunity to secure bipartisan support for crucial public health initiatives, a skill that she says is valuable for anyone operating in such a partisan and polarized Congress to have.

Transparency, accountability, and common end goals are central to successful bipartisan collaborations between Democrats and Republicans, she says.

In her words: “They’re about having a strategic vision, a negotiated plan, and an exchange that allows you to adjust and have tough conversations that you’re not always going to agree on, but to work a way forward.”

If elected, a top priority for Hader will be improving access to healthcare. Her end goal is “one hundred percent truly accessible, affordable healthcare for all period”.

If she had a magic wand on her first day in office and could change one thing, it would be to allow our government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare.

“We need to use the bargaining power of Medicare as the single largest purchaser of drugs in our nation to get better prices”, she told NPI. She’d also like to lower premiums and out of pocket costs by allowing younger people to buy into Medicare and reduce some of the financial burden of the private market.

Most important of all, Hader wants to empower states like Washington to switch to a single payer system and lead the way for the rest of the nation to follow suit.

“I think the stable way to expand that big of a changed model is going to be by proving it, make it happen so that people can touch it, feel it, see it is happening, it can work out some of the kinks.”

She stated that her number one objective as a new member of Congress will be to be a problem solver. In a district that is both rural and urban, she believes flexible policy directions are necessary to meet the diverse needs of its cities and counties.

Hader cited the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity as an example of an issue manifesting itself differently between communities.

While Issaquah may need more public support for social services infrastructure to catch homeless people coming off the end of the bus line from Seattle, Wenatchee’s number one housing challenge is the lack of mid-level housing, she argues, where the solution is not more low level housing but “figuring out how to incentivize that mid-level gap to be filled so that everybody can move up”.

Having spoken with the mayors of cities and towns throughout the 8th, Hader told NPi that another central priority for the district is infrastructure investment.

An example of that, Hader says, is the lack of available parking in Auburn for commuters seeking to utilize the Sounder commuter rail service going into Seattle — an issue Sound Transit is trying to address.

Hader would also like to see more investment in rural roads and highways.

Like Senator Mark Mullet (D-5th District), she wants to see State Route 18 expanded between Issaquah and North Bend.

In recent weeks, Hader has secured a slew of endorsements including the sole endorsements of the King and Pierce County Democrats, and OneAmerica.

She is also the only candidate to have been endorsed by most of the Democratic legislative district organizations that overlap with the 8th CD, including the 45th, 11th, 41st, 31st, 25th, 30th, and 47th Legislative District Democrats.

In addition, Hader has earned the support of several labor unions, including the United Steelworkers Local 310A, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77, Wenatchee Aluminum Trades Council, and North Central Washington Central Labor Council. (Labor’s support is split between Hader and the other two Democratic candidates; no labor union has endorsed Rossi.)

Without question, the midterm elections are the key to bolstering oversight and accountability at the federal level.

“We just have to flip leadership”, Hader declared. “The check on the executive is not happening under current Republican leadership.”

As mentioned, Hader is campaigning in a purple district that has continually favored Democratic presidential candidates, including Clinton in 2016, but has also only elected Republicans to Congress since the district’s creation in 1983.

Ballots in the August Top Two election are due to be mailed later this month. August 7th, 2018, is the deadline to return them to a drop box or post office. For the first time, stamps will not be necessary to return a ballot through the U.S. Mail, as all return envelopes sent to Washington voters will feature prepaid postage.

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