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

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Denny Heck to retire from Congress, creating an open seat in Washington’s 10th District

Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck announced today that he will leave Con­gress at the end of his term and pass the hon­or of rep­re­sent­ing Wash­ing­ton’s 10th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in the House to some­one new.

“Being away so much from Paula, my best friend and wife of near­ly forty-four years, can be lone­ly even when I am in a crowd­ed room. At our age, how­ev­er many ‘good years’ we have left togeth­er is not a grow­ing num­ber,” Heck wrote in a let­ter released by his office and pub­lished on Medium.

“In the spir­it of com­plete open­ness, part of me is also dis­cour­aged. The count­less hours I have spent in the inves­ti­ga­tion of Russ­ian elec­tion inter­fer­ence and the impeach­ment inquiry have ren­dered my soul weary.”

“I will nev­er under­stand how some of my col­leagues, in many ways good peo­ple, could ignore or deny the President’s unre­lent­ing attack on a free press, his vicious char­ac­ter assas­si­na­tion of any­one who dis­agreed with him, and his demon­stra­bly very dis­tant rela­tion­ship with the truth,” Heck added.

Denny Heck speaking

Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck speaks at the 2018 Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Crab Feed (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

“Con­gress­man Den­ny Heck is a cher­ished Mem­ber of our Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cau­cus and a crit­i­cal force in the Con­gress for the eco­nom­ic and nation­al secu­ri­ty of the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” said Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi. “His years of lead­er­ship in Wash­ing­ton State and in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. have strength­ened Amer­i­ca, and his guid­ance and friend­ship will be missed by his many friends in the Congress.

“Since Day One, Con­gress­man Heck has dis­tin­guished him­self as a leader of out­stand­ing integri­ty and char­ac­ter.  A cham­pi­on of edu­ca­tion and oppor­tu­ni­ties for all, he came to Wash­ing­ton com­mit­ted to lift­ing up hard-work­ing fam­i­lies and small busi­ness­es, and his ser­vice on the Finan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee has helped tilt the play­ing field back to the side of work­ers. His patri­o­tism, pas­sion and per­sis­tence have been crit­i­cal to the Intel­li­gence Committee’s work to keep Amer­i­ca safe, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing this chal­leng­ing time for our democracy.”

“In his retire­ment state­ment, Den­ny spoke with rev­er­ence of the great hon­or that Mem­bers have to hold pow­er in trust on behalf of our con­stituents. Denny’s humil­i­ty, integri­ty and absolute ded­i­ca­tion to his dis­trict will con­tin­ue to be a bless­ing to our insti­tu­tion and our nation for years to come. We thank his wife, Paula, and his sons, Bob and Trey, for shar­ing Den­ny with the Con­gress and the coun­try, and wish them the best in all their future endeavors.”

“I just spoke to Den­ny and thanked him for his tire­less advo­ca­cy on behalf of the peo­ple of the 10th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict,” said Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee in a state­ment sent to NPI short­ly after this post was ini­tial­ly published.

“No one is more ded­i­cat­ed to serv­ing this region than Den­ny,” the Gov­er­nor declared. “With­out fail, any­time I attend an event in his dis­trict, Den­ny is there. His ded­i­ca­tion and ener­gy are unmatched, and he will be missed.”

“Den­ny has fought hard for a strong democ­ra­cy, been a pow­er­ful voice at the nation­al lev­el and is nev­er afraid to do what’s right. Here at home, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans will ben­e­fit for gen­er­a­tions from his remark­able lead­er­ship on recov­er­ing the Puget Sound, reau­tho­riz­ing the Export-Import Bank and so many oth­er issues.

“No mat­ter what he does next, one thing is for sure – the Con­gres­sion­al Record will be short­er with­out him. I wish Den­ny the very best in his retire­ment and hope he has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend more time in the real Wash­ing­ton, enjoy­ing the peo­ple and places he’s fought so hard for in Thurston, Pierce and Mason Counties.”

“Den­ny Heck is a good, kind and decent man who – over four decades – served our state and our nation with hon­or and dis­tinc­tion,” said Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pra­ma Jaya­pal, who joined the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives four years after Heck did.

“I am proud to have been his col­league and am par­tic­u­lar­ly grate­ful for his stew­ard­ship of Wash­ing­ton state’s nat­ur­al resources, most notably his efforts to restore the Puget Sound. I will miss his guid­ance and friend­ship, but I wish him and his fam­i­ly great hap­pi­ness in the years ahead.”

Heck has rep­re­sent­ed Wash­ing­ton’s 10th Dis­trict in Con­gress since it was cre­at­ed in the last round of redis­trict­ing. The dis­trict encom­pass­es much of the South Sound area, includ­ing the state’s cap­i­tal of Olympia and south­ern Pierce Coun­ty. While not a lib­er­al bas­tion like Wash­ing­ton’s 7th or 9th, the 10th is reli­ably Demo­c­ra­t­ic, so Heck­’s retire­ment should not alter the par­ti­san make­up of the state’s delegation.

Espe­cial­ly giv­en that he’s retir­ing in a pres­i­den­tial cycle.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic strate­gists pre­fer that Demo­c­ra­t­ic office­hold­ers retire in pres­i­den­tial cycles because an open seat is eas­i­er to defend in a high turnout elec­tion, whether it’s in Con­gress, a state Leg­is­la­ture, or a local government.

A num­ber of Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors live in Wash­ing­ton’s 10th Dis­trict and sev­er­al of them will undoubt­ed­ly now begin con­tem­plat­ing a bid for Congress.

In 2012, when Norm Dicks opt­ed to retire, State Sen­a­tor Derek Kilmer was able to clear the field and run a low-dra­ma cam­paign. Will the same thing hap­pen this time around, or will mul­ti­ple Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­tenders square off in the Top Two?

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  1. […] media that an announce­ment about run­ning for Con­gress is immi­nent. Which would make sense. U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Den­ny Heck recent­ly announced his retire­ment, and if Reeves wants to be a full time can­di­date for his seat, step­ping down now allows a […]

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