Shannon Hader, a longtime federal public-health official, is the latest Democrat to run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. Another Democrat, Mona Das, has exited the race because of lackluster fundraising.
A former top federal public-health official has joined the field of Democratic candidates vying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
Shannon Hader has spent decades fighting HIV and other global epidemics as a manager at agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
She recently moved back to her former hometown of Auburn to enter the 8th Congressional District race — a nationally watched contest considered key for Democrats’ chances to win a House majority.
Hader’s entry comes as one Democratic rival is ending her campaign: Mortgage-business owner Mona Das said she had no choice given lackluster fundraising.
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Like other Democrats in the race — all vying to advance past an August primary to face likely GOP contender Dino Rossi — Hader has never held elected office.
She says she was motivated to run by what she’s witnessed of the Trump administration over the past year.
“On an inside-baseball level, being inside the federal government, you see everything that is being insidiously and covertly dismantled,” Hader said Thursday.
Hader, 49, a physician, served as Director of the Division of Global HIV and TB at the CDC from 2014 until October. She started her career at the agency in 1999, working as an epidemiologist and manager, including a stint in Zimbabwe. Hader also has worked as a health-policy aide to Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass.
While the CDC traditionally has been more protected from political influence than some other parts of government, Hader said she’s seen its mission quietly undermined with a lack of hiring and slowed spending.
She also pointed to news reports that Trump appointees have banned or discouraged CDC managers from using certain words in budget submissions to the White House, including “science-based,” “transgender” and “diversity.”
Hader, who grew up in Auburn, said she’s lived all over the world but “this has been my home the whole time.” Records show she voted in King County from 1988 to 2006 and filed to register again in the county in October.
Hader said what sets her apart from rivals is experience making the federal government work.
“I have been about delivering results that change peoples lives. I am pretty darn good at that,” she said.
She criticized the recently passed tax bill for providing disproportionate benefits to investors as compared with working people and cited estimates it will balloon the federal deficit.
But Hader declined to say whether she would favor repealing all or part of the legislation — which will give tax cuts to most taxpayers starting this year — saying she’d need to look at specific proposals.
Underscoring the importance of health care in the 2018 midterms, Hader is the second physician to run for Reichert’s seat. Kim Schrier, a Sammamish pediatrician, has been the leading fundraiser among Democrats.
Das, who announced she was ending her campaign this week, said she will likely endorse another woman in the race.
But Das said she has been disappointed that “no Lisa Brown” has emerged in the 8th District Democratic field — referring to the former state Senate majority leader who is running in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.
“I think there are really great candidates running in this race but not a single one of us has any experience. That to me is really shocking,” Das said.
On the GOP side, Rossi, so far, has had no challengers and quickly outpaced all Democrats in fundraising. The former state senator is well known to voters, having unsuccessfully run for governor in 2004 and 2008, and for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Republicans have represented the 8th District in Congress since its creation after the 1980 Census. Still, Reichert’s retirement vaulted the district into a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats, with some national analysts rating it a toss-up or better for the party.
The district stretches from East King County across the Interstate 90 corridor to Kittitas and Chelan counties. It is one of 23 Republican-held House districts in which Democrat Hillary Clinton outperformed Trump last year.