Rossi and Schrier lead 8th Congressional District race

Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Kim Schrier are the top two finishers in the Aug. 7 primary race for U.S. Representative in Washington’s 8th Congressional District.

Early results show Rossi leading the 12-candidate field with 39.2 percent of the vote, followed by Schrier with 21.3 percent.

This was by far the most closely watched and high stakes national-level race in the region. The district spans multiple counties from Issaquah, Covington, Maple Valley, Auburn and Enumclaw in King County west of the Cascade Mountains to Ellensburg and Wenatchee on the other side of the range.

Last September, Congressman Dave Reichert announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election in the district, quickly making the open seat a priority race for Democrats seeking to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Cook Political Report has deemed it one of the nation’s “toss up” seats.

In response, Republicans fielded Rossi, a former Washington state senator who failed in two bids for governor and one for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s seat. And since Reichert won all of his re-election bids since he first ran in 2004, it was practically assured that the district’s conservative voter base would propel Rossi through the the November general election.

On the other side of the aisle, three Democrats jumped into the ring: Schrier, a pediatrician based in Issaquah; Shannon Hader, a former public health official at the Centers for Disease Control; and Jason Rittereiser, a Seattle lawyer originally from Ellensburg.

And money has poured in from donors and political action committees. While mainly waiting to see who his Democratic challenger will be, Rossi has distanced himself somewhat from the Trump administration by diverging with him on trade tariffs.

Other top finishers in Tuesday’s primary are Rittereiser with 18.2 percent and Hader with 14 percent.

Given that their policy platforms were largely uniform, the Democratic candidates distinguished themselves with minor degrees of separation, their backgrounds, and who was best positioned to beat Rossi in November. All three candidates ripped Rossi for his stances on abortion (he argues that abortion is only justified in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is threatened), while Schrier and Hader argued that more female doctors are needed in Congress.

Rittereiser played up his rural roots in Ellensburg by putting out an ad featuring him on a tractor while also maintaining progressive policy positions like endorsing a House bill that would enact universal Medicare.

In one of the race’s key confrontational moments, Schier took flak from her opponents for indicating at a candidate forum that she didn’t support mandating vaccinations for children. She claimed that she didn’t understand the question and supports vaccinations.

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