The 8th District has never before sent a Democrat to Congress. Schrier, a first-time candidate who rode a wave of Democratic enthusiasm to victory, vowed to bring a new perspective to a divided Capitol.
Issaquah pediatrician Kim Schrier will become the first Democrat to represent Washington’s 8th Congressional District, defeating Republican Dino Rossi in the most expensive House race in state history.
Rossi, a former state senator, conceded the race in a statement Wednesday night as new vote totals saw Schrier widen her lead.
“While this race did not end in the way you or I would have liked, I urge you to stay involved in the democratic process,” he wrote in a statement to supporters, adding he looked forward to returning to life with his family.
Schrier, a first-time candidate who rode a wave of Democratic enthusiasm to victory in the historically red district, vowed to bring a new perspective to a divided Capitol.
“Congress is broken, and people in the 8th District are ready for a community pediatrician to bring a dose of common sense to DC,” she said in a statement. “We deserve a representative who will take on drug companies and insurers to lower healthcare costs, who will protect pre-existing conditions, who will finally give the middle class a pay raise, and who will get corporate money out of politics. That’s exactly the representative I will be in Congress.”
Her campaign drew 4,000 active volunteers, she said, who knocked on more than 400,000 doors and made 400,000 phone calls. That helped drive what is projected to be record turnout.
Schrier led with 53 percent after new vote tallies from King and Pierce counties Wednesday. The 6 percentage-point gap was essentially the same as on Election Day, but Schrier’s lead in raw votes grew by about 950, leaving her 12,576 votes ahead.
Rossi initially said he would not comment Wednesday as tens of thousands of votes remained to be counted. But he quickly issued his concession statement after KING-TV called the race for Schrier.
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The more conservative counties in the district, Chelan and Kittitas, were not expected to count more votes until Friday, but they make up a relatively small share of the district.
Rossi boosted his share of the vote slightly in King County’s Wednesday count but not enough to change his trajectory, leaving him on pace for a fourth consecutive election defeat.
Schrier said in an interview she had not heard directly from Rossi by Wednesday afternoon. But she received congratulatory calls from prominent Democrats, including Sen. Patty Murray and former Gov. Christine Gregoire — both of whom defeated Rossi in previous races.
She said her message about being a mom and trusted doctor resonated with voters compared with Rossi’s biography as “a career politician who has never gone to bat for people in the district.”
Schrier’s win adds to a record number of women elected to Congress this year — and to her party’s new double-digit House majority.
The 8th District has never sent a Democrat to Congress, but it was immediately seized upon as a pickup opportunity by the party after the retirement announcement this past fall by U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.
The Schrier-Rossi contest drew more than $28 million in spending, largely on negative TV ads — the most for any House general-election race in the nation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Republican incumbents hung on in two other competitive races in Washington state.
In Southwest Washington’s 3rd District, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver, defeated Democratic challenger Carolyn Long. Long conceded after Wednesday’s results showed Herrera Beutler with 53 percent.
In Eastern Washington’s 5th District, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, defeated Democratic challenger Lisa Brown.
If the current results hold, Republicans next year will represent three of Washington’s 10 U.S. House seats, versus seven for Democrats.
With Democrats taking control of the House, some in the state delegation may see new leadership roles and clout, including Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, who is in line to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Reps. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, and Suzan DelBene, D-Medina, both announced bids to chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the political arm of House Democrats, for the 2020 election cycle. Their Democratic colleagues are expected to vote on the new DCCC chair by the end of the month.