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.