Dave Reichert being interviewed on KING5
Dave Reichert being interviewed on KING5 (Video still)

After watch­ing Dave Reichert con­firm his 2024 cam­paign for Gov­er­nor in a very friend­ly KING5 inter­view with reporter Drew Mikkelsen, I opened my inbox, and found the Repub­li­can fron­trun­ner on the receiv­ing end of a high hard one.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, a guber­na­to­r­i­al rival, was intro­duc­ing the ex-King Coun­ty Sher­iff to a Chica­go-born polit­i­cal tru­ism: “Pol­i­tics ain’t beanbag.”

“We have a new oppo­nent, anti-choice Repub­li­can Dave Reichert,” began Ferguson’s mon­ey appeal. “With a promi­nent anti-choice Repub­li­can now in this race, we know the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion will be ready to invest mon­ey and resources into Wash­ing­ton State.”

Nobody works hard­er than Bob Fer­gu­son, and no attor­ney gen­er­al in Amer­i­ca has worked hard­er to defend Planned Par­ent­hood against assaults by the Trump-Pence regime or access to med­ica­tion abor­tion care in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs deci­sion. Wash­ing­ton’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al is deter­mined to dog Reichert with the issue from day one in the 2024 governor’s race.

Reichert has teased for years about a run for Gov­er­nor, show­ing leg to tele­vi­sion inter­view­ers but then back­ing off and seek­ing anoth­er term in Congress.

Now, out of office since 2019, he’s made the leap.

It looks very much like a jump into cold water.

The Main­stream of Repub­li­cans of Wash­ing­ton imme­di­ate­ly applaud­ed Reichert’s can­di­da­cy. Such back­ing would have been a big deal – in the 1970s.

But an ultra MAGA Repub­li­can, Ben­ton Coun­ty Repub­li­can chair­man Semi Bird, is already in the race and bring­ing his extreme cam­paign to the East­side Repub­li­cans’ sum­mer BBQ in Reichert’s old con­gres­sion­al district.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty has become a reflec­tion of hate­ful, big­ot­ed right wing media and patho­log­i­cal liar Don­ald Trump. Inter­viewed on Mur­doch’s FNC, Bird assailed gen­der affirm­ing care, gun respon­si­bil­i­ty, and “law­less­ness.” While call­ing itself the Emer­ald City, he said, Seat­tle is “more like a chunk of coal right now.”

The par­ty base loves such talk.

The Ben­ton, Yaki­ma, Lewis, Cowlitz and Ska­ma­nia Coun­ty Repub­li­cans have already endorsed Bird’s can­di­da­cy. The affa­ble, col­le­gial Reichert faces the chal­lenge of appeal­ing to such hard­line folks while some­how build­ing a major­i­ty coali­tion of vot­ers in a state that has vot­ed for mar­riage equal­i­ty, passed three gun safe­ty ini­tia­tives, rat­i­fied com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion in its pub­lic schools, and vot­ed to legal­ize the recre­ation­al use of cannabis.

And then there is the abor­tion squeeze. Reichert hails from a Luther­an Church-Mis­souri Syn­od back­ground, a denom­i­na­tion strong­ly opposed to abor­tion. He repeat­ed­ly vot­ed against repro­duc­tive free­dom in Con­gress, though he is soft ped­dling the issue and pledg­ing he will not leg­is­late to restrict peo­ple’s rights.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray won reelec­tion last year in a land­slide, with a 400,000-vote mar­gin in King Coun­ty, all in the face of a $20 mil­lion Repub­li­can effort from chal­lenger Tiffany Smi­ley and her Repub­li­can allies. Mur­ray ran a repro­duc­tive jus­tice-dri­ven cam­paign, stress­ing the endan­gered right of choice.

Mur­ray’s mes­sage res­onat­ed in a state which vot­ed to legal­ize abor­tion in 1970 – three years before Roe v. Wade – and strength­ened abor­tion rights in 1991.

Hence, Dave Reichert is in a vise. He faces the hard right in his own par­ty, and a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-trend­ing state elec­torate which has not put a Repub­li­can in the governor’s man­sion since 1980. In respond­ing to Post Alley cov­er­age, for­mer Young Democ­rats of Wash­ing­ton Chair Derek Richards won­dered if Reichert might not make it through the 2024 Top Two elec­tion. Wash­ing­ton might see a face­off between two Democ­rats. Fer­gu­son and State Lands Com­mis­sion­er Hilary Franz have, between the two, been on the bal­lot and won in five statewide races.

Semi Bird, mean­while, has an elec­tion com­ing up this year.

Vot­ers in Rich­land will decide on August 1st whether to recall Bird and two oth­er school direc­tors. Back­ers of recall say the trio vio­lat­ed the state’s Open Meet­ings Act, and the school district’s own poli­cies, when the defied a state man­date and vot­ed to make wear­ing masks mandatory.

Reichert def­i­nite­ly looks like the sher­iff he once was, a fact of which he relent­less­ly reminds us. In his sev­en­ties, the for­mer con­gress­man remains tanned, fit and ath­let­ic with a hand­some sil­ver head of hair. He usu­al­ly comes across as upbeat and opti­mistic. His admir­ers have drawn par­al­lels with Ronald Reagan.

The Repub­li­can Par­ty of today is not sun­ny and upbeat, how­ev­er. Just lis­ten to Bird’s recent Fox inter­view, in which hosts depict­ed Seat­tle as a cen­ter of deprav­i­ty, or inter­views with local far-right radio hosts Jason Rantz and Ari Hoff­man, who depict Puget Sound-area life in the most neg­a­tive light.

Tiffany Smi­ley tried Seat­tle-bash­ing — big­time — in her Sen­ate cam­paign, only to lose King Coun­ty by more than 400,000 votes.

Reichert is off and run­ning for Gov­er­nor on a sim­i­lar note, telling KING5’s Mikkelsen: “Seat­tle has become Gotham City. Where is Batman?”

The sher­iff has cho­sen to pur­sue high office instead of rid­ing off into the sunset.

But the prog­no­sis for his can­di­da­cy is not promising.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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