The field of Democrats in Washington’s nationally watched 8th Congressional District race is shrinking by one.
Toby Whitney, an Amazon manager and former congressional aide, announced Friday he’s withdrawing from the 2018 race, citing family concerns.
In a statement, Whitney he’d seen “up close the toll that 14-hour days and 7-day weeks can take on candidates and their loved ones,” adding his “sprawling family is the most important part of my life and, at this particular moment, that is where I need to be focused.”
Whitney has managed a software-development group at Amazon since 2014 and previously worked as legislative director for longtime Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott. He struggled to match the fundraising of some other candidates vying in the 8th District contest, raising $81,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports through September.
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He blasted the “distorting power of money” in his statement, arguing “money is the biggest threat to our democracy and it will only get worse until we fix it.”
The historically Republican-leaning 8th District has been identified as a key pickup opportunity for Democrats since seven-term U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, announced in September that he would not seek re-election in 2018. The district extends from eastern King and Pierce counties across the Interstate 90 corridor to Kittitas and Chelan counties. Republicans have always held the House seat, but the district has favored Democrats in presidential elections.
Whitney’s exit leaves several other Democrats vying to advance past next year’s primary. They include pediatrician Kim Schrier, former prosecutor Jason Rittereiser, mortgage business owner Mona Das and local entrepreneur Brayden Olsen.
Republicans, meanwhile, seem to be coalescing behind Dino Rossi, the well-known state legislator who has run unsuccessfully three times for statewide office. Rossi raised $578,000 in just nine days after announcing his candidacy in September. His campaign says it has pushed past the $1 million mark since then.
Whitney’s departing statement criticized the “ideological fight for purity” in both the Democratic and Republican parties.
“I believe we can get everyone insured and make the middle class much more economically mobile, but I believe we’ll have to compromise a bit with people who disagree with us on the way to get there. The path to solutions is not a perfectly straight line, but we’ll get there. We can achieve big goals together if we acknowledge peoples’ concerns,” he said.