Eighth Congressional District Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) announced he won’t seek re-election in 2018 on Wednesday morning, one week following a satirical Issaquah rally that implied his Republican allegiance will cost lives.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the greatest state in the world’s greatest nation … I am humbled to have been trusted by the people of Washington’s 8th District to be their voice in Congress; it is an honor I have not taken lightly,” Reichert stated in a press release.
Reichert explained that after spending time at home this summer and “reflecting on the past,” he has decided he would like to spend more time with his wife, three adult children and six grandchildren.
“It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me,” said Reichert, who served as sheriff of King County for seven years before being elected to Congress in 2004. “I have spent my entire career and devoted my life to service. I see this not just as a job, but as a calling — a calling I will not walk away from.”
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn congratulated Reichert for his career of service in a press release Wednesday morning.
“I commend my friend for working on our behalf during this unusually toxic time in Washington D.C.,” Dunn stated in the press release. “To you Dave: you have done a great job and I am very proud to call you my friend.”
In recent months, Issaquah has seen quite a few rallies protesting its congressional representative for what protesters see as his lack of willingness to meet with constituents and his support of President Trump’s policies.
However, on Aug. 30, people came out in droves with signs “supporting” Rep. Reichert.
“Fill up the cemetery, fill up the grave, all you have to do is vote for Dave!” chanted the black-clad mourners as they carried a coffin up Southeast 56th Street to Reichert’s Issaquah office.
The Reichert “supporters” belonged to the Washington State Organization of Gravediggers, Laborers, Undertakers and Morticians, also known as WA SO GLUM.
The fictitious group was part of a skit performed by the Washington Community Action Network, the Main Street Alliance of Washington and the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action. Thespians met politicians when the groups came together in a theatrical display to protest health care cuts in the proposed Republican budget.
Mary Le Nguyen, executive director of Washington CAN, said that while Reichert did vote against repealing the ACA — albeit at the last minute — the concern is that he will be too tied to his party during the budget process.
“He needs to step away from his party … He needs to be protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities,” she said.
Main Street Alliance pointed out that the Republican budget would cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare and nearly $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, while giving tax breaks to large and wealthy corporations.
“Our organization has a proud tradition of protecting the noble, and profitable, business of death care,” stated Mr. Mold, head lobbyist of WA SO GLUM, played by George Poston of Auburn.
Mold went on to discuss the Washington workers whose businesses have been hurt by the extended lives that the American Care Act brought about, such as Freddy the gravedigger from Greenwater, Alistair the Enumclaw embalmer, Ramona the cemetery owner of Ravensdale and Michael the mortician from Manson.
“Times have gotten so tough that Alistair has taken on taxidermy to cover the bills … Instead of working at the morgue, Michael has been moonlighting as a makeup artist in the local mall,” Mold told the audience.
Mold then introduced the next speaker, undertaker Mr. Sowerberry, who shares a name with Charles Dickens’ greedy undertaker in the novel “Oliver Twist.”
“Times got tight for us in the funeral biz. The ACA passed, 20 million people gained health insurance and demand slowed,” Sowerberry complained.
Poston said that the satirical piece was a great way to draw people’s attention to a very important issue.
“People want to be entertained,” Poston said, and “you’ve got to do something to get noticed.”
“What we wanted to do was drive the message that cutting Medicare and Medicaid has a direct impact on people’s lives … pointing out that this could lead to people’s deaths is a very real thing,” Nguyen said.
Poston said that while the play was farcical and extreme, it still made a valid point; people — especially senior citizens — will lose their lives if there are cuts made to their health care.
“They wanna cut taxes on the rich. In order to pay for that, they want to cut programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” Poston told the Reporter. “A lot of seniors can’t make ends meet.”
Poston spoke from experience; his own mother died a month ago, and she required a substantial amount of medical care as she neared the end of her life.
To Poston, cutting funding from the elderly is one of the most despicable actions a government can take.
“Those are the people that have worked so hard to make the world what it is,” he said. “It’s kind of a travesty — now we’re turning our backs on them.”