Dino Rossi debates Kim Schrier
Dino Rossi debates Kim Schrier

Repub­li­cans acknowl­edged this evening that Democ­rats had won Wash­ing­ton’s 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict for the first time since its cre­ation in 1981, as the par­ty’s stan­dard bear­er Dino Rossi con­ced­ed to U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Kim Schrier.

Rossi’s con­ces­sion mes­sage, sent to his sup­port­ers, is as follows:

I am so proud of this cam­paign. When I decid­ed to run for Con­gress I was con­fi­dent that we could run a com­pet­i­tive, issues-based race that would pro­vide vot­ers with a clear choice. We did just that.

Over the past year, I knocked on over 8,000 doors and talked with peo­ple about the issues that mat­ter most to their fam­i­lies. We talked about the impor­tance of pre­serv­ing the Amer­i­can Dream for future gen­er­a­tions, and the kinds of poli­cies it will take for our com­mu­ni­ties to bring about last­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty and prosperity.

And despite the record-set­ting mil­lions spent by my oppo­nent and out­side groups to mis­rep­re­sent my record and posi­tions on the issues, I hope that you also heard me talk about the impor­tance of clos­ing the divi­sions that exist between us. I told vot­ers to look back at my true leg­isla­tive record in Olympia. I talked about how I believe every­one has val­ue, and how I am will­ing to work with any­one on solu­tions that ben­e­fit our com­mu­ni­ties. I promised that, if elect­ed, I would take that much-need­ed approach to Congress.

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. We all need to stay informed, get involved, and hold pub­lic offi­cials account­able for the deci­sions they make. Remem­ber, the next elec­tion is just two short years away. Our coun­try is strongest when peo­ple get involved in their com­mu­ni­ties, whether in polit­i­cal or non-polit­i­cal ways.

I believe we ran the best race that we could have run this year and left it all on the field. I look for­ward to return­ing to my life as a hus­band, father, neigh­bor, and vol­un­teer. I can’t wait to spend some time with my wife, kids, and my new granddaughter.

But our duty to form and main­tain an active cit­i­zen­ry does not fade. Your com­mu­ni­ty needs you. This coun­try needs you. Our democ­ra­cy needs you. This race would not have been the same with­out you. Thank you.

Rossi’s defeat is his fourth con­sec­u­tive failed attempt at high­er office in Wash­ing­ton. Rossi last won an elec­tion for pub­lic office eigh­teen years ago, in 2000, when he was reelect­ed to the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate in the 5th Leg­isla­tive District.

(As of this Jan­u­ary, Rossi’s old dis­trict will no longer have any Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tion at all due to the vic­to­ries of Bill Ramos and Lisa Callan, who will join Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Mark Mul­let in the statehouse.)

Since the ear­ly 2000s, Rossi has fruit­less­ly sought high­er office.

First, he ran for Gov­er­nor against Chris Gre­goire, los­ing by the tini­est of mar­gins in a drawn-out con­test that Rossi and the Repub­li­can Par­ty tried to over­turn the result of in court (a legal chal­lenge that was mem­o­rably dis­missed with prej­u­dice by Judge John Bridges of Chelan Coun­ty, where they chose to file their suit).

Then, in 2008, Rossi chal­lenged Gre­goire again, but she defeat­ed him once more, this time by a con­vinc­ing mar­gin of 194,614 votes.

In 2010, Rossi decid­ed to take on Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, a fix­ture in Wash­ing­ton State pol­i­tics. Rossi’s Repub­li­can friends sup­plied plen­ty of mon­ey for attack ads denounc­ing Pat­ty Mur­ray, but the ads did­n’t work. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans reelect­ed Mur­ray and made Rossi a three-time los­er for high­er office.

In 2016, fol­low­ing the death of Andy Hill, Rossi was appoint­ed to serve as the 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­tric­t’s state sen­a­tor (Rossi was redis­trict­ed into the 45th in 2012) until a spe­cial elec­tion could be held the fol­low­ing year. This was Rossi’s sec­ond stint in the Leg­is­la­ture as an unelect­ed fill-in for a depart­ed Republican.

Rossi made clear he would not be a can­di­date in the spe­cial elec­tion to pick a per­ma­nent suc­ces­sor to Hill, which was won by Demo­c­ra­t­ic ris­ing star Man­ka Dhin­gra. But he clear­ly still held a desire to seek high­er office, because when Dave Reichert announced his retire­ment from Con­gress, Rossi jumped into the race.

The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty quick­ly coa­lesced behind Rossi, offer­ing its full sup­port. For many months, it was unclear who Rossi’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent would be, but in August, pedi­a­tri­cian Kim Schri­er emerged as the lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger, secur­ing a spot on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot as Rossi’s oppo­nent by edg­ing out Jason Rit­tereis­er and Shan­non Hader.

Schri­er now joins the list of Demo­c­ra­t­ic women who have beat­en Rossi, which includes Kath­leen Drew as well as Chris Gre­goire and Pat­ty Mur­ray. Both Gre­goire and Mur­ray phoned Schri­er ear­li­er today to con­grat­u­late her on her victory.

“Con­gress is bro­ken, and peo­ple in the 8th Dis­trict are ready for a com­mu­ni­ty pedi­a­tri­cian to bring a dose of com­mon sense to DC,” said Schri­er in a state­ment. “We deserve a rep­re­sen­ta­tive who will take on drug com­pa­nies and insur­ers to low­er health­care costs, who will pro­tect pre-exist­ing con­di­tions, who will final­ly give the mid­dle class a pay raise, and who will get cor­po­rate mon­ey out of pol­i­tics. That’s exact­ly the rep­re­sen­ta­tive I will be in Congress.”

Schri­er has pledged to be a much more acces­si­ble mem­ber of Con­gress than Reichert ever was. She plans to hold reg­u­lar town halls so that she can hear from con­stituents. The first and only in-per­son town hall Reichert ever held was in Belle­vue in 2004 when the Bush admin­is­tra­tion was try­ing to pri­va­tize Social Secu­ri­ty; NPI report­ed on that event here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate.

Schri­er’s vic­to­ry leaves Repub­li­cans with three con­gres­sion­al seats in Wash­ing­ton State: the 3rd Dis­trict, where Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler was able to with­stand a chal­lenge from Car­olyn Long; the 4th Dis­trict, which is solid­ly Repub­li­can and has returned Dan New­house to Con­gress, and the 5th Dis­trict, which retained Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers despite a spir­it­ed chal­lenge from Lisa Brown.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th span south­west, south cen­tral, and east­ern Wash­ing­ton. The state’s oth­er con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts are to the west and north.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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