Former United States Representative and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, a Republican, appears to be on the verge of joining the increasingly crowded field of candidates running for Governor of Washington State next year, if recent statements from Republican state legislators are any indication.
We don’t publish much in the way of rumors, speculation, or gossip here on The Cascadia Advocate — it’s just not our thing. But our team has noticed that an increasing number of Republican legislators and other prominent local Republican elected officials are publicly stating on Twitter that they’ve had great conversations with Reichert and will gladly be supporting him if he runs for governor, which seem to be part of a coordinated ramp-up for Reichert.
That suggests an announcement is imminent. Reichert is running.
Reichert, seventy-two, was the King County Sheriff for many years before seeking higher office. He served several terms in Congress representing the 8th Congressional District. He won the Republican nomination for Congress in 2004, defeated Democratic opponent Dave Ross in the general election, and took over for longtime representative Jennifer Dunn in January 2005.
A few weeks later, Reichert held a “town hall” in Bellevue, which featured representatives from the Washington Policy Center and the Bush administration trying to sell the privatization of Social Security to Eastside voters. We reported on the event here on the Cascadia Advocate; the post is still available from our archives. Reichert, who appeared visibly uncomfortable throughout that event, never held another in-person town hall during the rest of his time in Congress.
He did manage to prevail over Democratic challengers Darcy Burner and Suzan DelBene to secure reelection in 2006, 2008, and 2010, after which point Democrats basically gave up on trying to unseat him.
Reichert opted to leave Congress after Donald Trump got installed in the White House by the Electoral College, and Democrats promptly mounted a huge effort to take the 8th (a suburban-exurban-rural district), which was successful.
Reichert’s Democratic successor Kim Schrier has, like Reichert, been able to beat back repeated challenges from the opposition, and continues to hold the seat.
Reichert privately and publicly contemplated running against Jay Inslee for governor in 2016 and 2020, but he decided against it each time.
In 2016, he said: “Like so many of you, I have been extremely disappointed in the decisions coming out of the Governor’s Office — regarding our schools, the health of our children, and most recently a decision to give the Green River serial killer a chance to enjoy life in a nicer prison. We deserve better.”
“Yet, I believe I can better serve you now, today, in another Washington where politicians are more interested in fighting each other than fighting for America; where leadership has been in retreat, and courage has been on recess.”
In 2020, he said: “I am honored and humbled to have recently been asked to consider running for Governor in 2020. After much thoughtful prayer and discussion with family and friends, I have decided not to run.”
Now, however, with Jay Inslee retiring and the state’s top job open for the first time in twelve years, Reichert seems to be in and ready to run.
Consider these tweets:
As some may know I was considering a run for Gov- I recently spoke w/ Dave Reichert and he is actively exploring a run. With that in mind I am fully endorsing him as he is the right person for the job. Dave can restore balance to WA!
I had a great conversation with Dave Reichert about his vision for WA. He is solutions focused, proven leader, & will deliver the balance we need after generations of 1‑party rule. When Dave Reichert announces his 2024 Gubernatorial campaign, he’ll have my support & endorsement.
Spoke with Dave Reichert today, and we had a great conversation about his vision for WA. Our state is in crisis, and we need an experienced leader to bring much needed balance back to our great state. When he announces his run for Governor, he will have my support!
I had a great chat with Dave Reichert today. If he chooses to run, it would be my honor to support him for the job of governor of Washington. ‘The right person at the right time for Washington state.
Crime Fighter. Air Force Veteran. Fiscal conservative. Family man. That’s Dave Reichert & I hope he runs for Governor. We need a leader who is experienced, firm, and fair-minded. He’s been King Co Sheriff, an effective leader in Congress, & he’s tough enough to lead our state!
That last one is particularly notable — it’s from Bruce Dammeier, the executive of the second largest county in Washington State, and a former state legislator rather than a currently-serving one. Dammeier was part of the hypothetical field of gubernatorial candidates that we tested in our March 2023 statewide poll along with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and King County Executive Dow Constantine.
After the results were released, Dammeier reiterated he would not be running for governor. (He had said so before, but we wanted a credible Republican to put up in the survey along with the three Democratic possibilities, and chose him.) Constantine followed suit within hours, saying he wouldn’t run either.
Weeks later, Governor Inslee announced his retirement. Attorney General Bob Ferguson promptly launched a gubernatorial campaign and Hilary Franz did likewise several days later. Democratic State Senator Mark Mullet has since jumped in too, along with Yakima physician Raul Garcia.
Those four plus ultra MAGA contender Semi Bird met the criteria we established for inclusion in our June 2023 statewide gubernatorial poll question. As an undeclared candidate, Reichert did not meet our criteria. However, if he enters the contest, he will be included in our next seasonal statewide survey.
A Reichert candidacy would really shake up the current gubernatorial field. Reichert is well known and would be very well positioned to secure one of those top two spots next year along with Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who currently leads the field according to our June electoral research.
While a Reichert candidacy probably wouldn’t faze Ferguson’s campaign, it seems like it would be a huge, showstopping problem for the other higher-profile gubernatorial hopefuls — Franz, Mullet, Garcia, and Bird, all of whom are hoping to get through to the general election along with Ferguson.
Mullet, in particular, is betting that he can win with a coalition of Democratic, independent, and Republican voters as an alternative to Ferguson. But that plan will only work if Mullet can get through the Top Two election.
Raul Garcia is in a similar predicament.
If Reichert doesn’t run, Garcia stands a decent chance of uniting enough Republican voters behind his candidacy (and perhaps also attracting some independents) to get through to the general election. Garcia came in second in our poll earlier this month and has had a good start to his 2024 bid.
On the other hand, if Reichert gets in, he’s the instant Republican frontrunner in the eyes of a lot of Washingtonians. He will have little difficulty raising money or collecting endorsements. Plenty of Republicans hungry for a breakthrough in Washington will see him as their best chance in a long time to win the governor’s office, which they last managed to do in 1980 with John Spellman.
Even if he locks down one of the top two spots and gets to the general election,. however, Reichert will almost certainly have to share a ticket with the likes of Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, or another ultra MAGA Republican presidential nominee, which will make campaigning rather difficult and uncomfortable.
It also doesn’t help Reichert’s chances that he is opposed to reproductive rights. That stance is not a problem as far as Washington State Republicans are concerned, but most Washingtonians support abortion care and Reichert’s position will be an anvil around his campaign, especially given the Dobbs decision.