The first 2016 challenger to Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene is Elizabeth Scott, a conservative state lawmaker who may test the political leanings of the moderate 1st District.
State Rep. Elizabeth Scott, a conservative Republican from Monroe, has stepped forward as the first 2016 challenger to Democratic Congresswoman Suzan DelBene.
DelBene, D-Medina, is seeking a third term in the 1st Congressional District, which runs from Redmond and Kirkland north to the Canadian border, including vast stretches of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.
Ever since redistricting redrew its boundaries four years ago, the 1st District has been considered politically moderate — the most evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans among the state’s 10 congressional districts.
But Susan Hutchison, chair of the Washington State Republican Party, Wednesday called Scott “a terrific candidate” and argued the 1st District is “actually a conservative-leaning district.”
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Scott’s candidacy would certainly test that theory. The former teacher, first elected to the Legislature in 2012, is a fiscal and social conservative with roots in the tea-party movement.
This year, Scott sponsored an anti-abortion bill declaring life begins at conception. In 2013, she declined to sign on to a resolution honoring former Gov. Booth Gardner, telling the Herald of Everett she objected to his role in expanding abortion rights.
Scott was the only state lawmaker to vote in 2013 against a bill allowing criminal charges in certain cases of spousal rape. On her website, she argued its language was too broad and “threatens the liberty of nonviolent people in their homes.”
Scott, who filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last week, declined interview requests saying she would be making “a more formal announcement at a later date.” Her campaign website cites legislative accomplishments including passage of a law aiding families of volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Hutchison said Scott can appeal to the many 1st District voters who are not thrilled with DelBene’s support of the Obama agenda, including some Democrats. “Snohomish County Democrats are blue collar. They aren’t represented by that socialist wing that is so prominent in Seattle,” she said.
DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, spent $2.8 million of her own money to win the 1st District seat in 2012, defeating a slew of Democratic primary rivals before edging out Republican John Koster. She was re-elected last year over former Microsoft engineer Pedro Celis, who ran as a Republican moderate.
DelBene’s campaign on Wednesday issued a statement ignoring Scott and predicting voters will re-elect DelBene for her “bipartisan” work in Congress, including efforts to ensure that federal responses to local crises — such as the Oso mudslide — are “quick and effective.”
The state Democratic Party was quick to jump on Scott’s political leanings. Jamal Raad, a spokesman for the Democrats, called Scott “a tea-party extremist who’s deeply out of step … Even among the far-right House Republican caucus, Scott stands out as one of the most conservative and radical legislators in Olympia.”
With a year to go before the 2016 filing deadline, Scott and DelBene are likely to have company in the 1st District race. If Scott or another challenger were to pull off an upset, it would end a long win streak for congressional incumbents in Washington. No U.S. House member seeking re-election in the state has lost since 1998.