Washington’s 8th Congressional District is a crucial seat in the battle over control of Congress. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, a Sammamish Democrat, is running for her third term.
Conventional wisdom says this is a swing district. It includes Democratic-leaning suburbs, Sammamish, Issaquah and Auburn, and stretches into the more conservative areas on the way east to Wenatchee. National Democratic and Republican organizations have poured in millions of dollars to tilt the vote in their favor.
The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter, calls the race a “toss up.”
In terms of candidate quality, it’s not even close. Schrier is running a solid campaign, just as she has effectively represented her rural and suburban constituents.
Schrier earned the Times’ editorial board endorsement because she developed a reputation as a practical deal maker, not a partisan firebrand. President Donald Trump signed eight of her bills, including helping farmers access critical research grants and ensuring central Washington has a reliable water supply. President Joe Biden signed another six pieces of Schrier’s legislation, such as measures to prevent Medicaid cuts and improve forest roads.
Earlier this year, when state money was needed to complete a wildfire evacuation route in Wenatchee, Schrier advocated with Democratic state lawmakers in Olympia. The project received funding and is now moving forward. Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz, a Republican, didn’t vote for Schrier in 2018. This year, he speaks her virtues in a television ad along with the Democratic mayor of Issaquah.
Another TV spot highlights her work for hay farmers.
Conscious of community concerns, Schrier touts her support of law enforcement. Among other efforts to support better policing, Schrier voted to increase law-enforcement and public-safety funding by $500 million.
Her opponent, self-described conservative businessman Matt Larkin, employs a campaign slogan repeated by many GOP candidates this year: “Make crime illegal again.” It’s a trite phrase, empty of substance, limited in its appeal. Larkin did not participate in the editorial board’s endorsement process.
National Republicans have made crime a centerpiece issue across the nation, along with the economic pain of rising prices.
But it may be that abortion ends up driving more voters to the polls.
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s stunning evisceration of Roe v. Wade in June, various states have passed restrictions on women’s reproductive health, including neighboring Idaho.
In July, a Seattle Times poll found that 35% of women put abortion at the top of their election issues. That was almost twice as many as those who said inflation was their top issue. For men, the priorities of these two issues were reversed but almost equally important, separated by only two percentage points.
Larkin seemingly throws out any nuance on abortion and adopts a stance that is profoundly anti-woman. “I will unapologetically support the rights of the unborn,” he said at a March 16 Republican primary debate. “If it’s a human being it needs to be protected at all costs, at all times. Period.”
With nearly 17% of the August primary vote, Larkin beat four other Republicans, including King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. Schrier received 48% with scant Democratic opposition.
Larkin is ill-suited for the job. The voters of the 8th District need a thoughtful advocate like Schrier, not an ideological social issues warrior.
As ballots arrive in mailboxes in a few weeks, there is something else to consider: With the House narrowly divided, every seat matters. National Republicans have done their polling. They know people are concerned about public safety and inflation. But they are thin on policies. Instead, a GOP-led House will likely focus on impeaching Biden and investigating his family. The party, now deprived of voices like U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, both eliminated in their primaries, will give credence to election conspiracies and authoritarianism. A national abortion ban will surely be introduced.
Vote for Schrier because she is the best candidate to advocate for the unique interests of the 8th District.
Vote for Schrier because party affiliation matters, and this year, congressional Democrats will best protect the interests of democracy.