Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn conceded defeat Thursday to Republican businessman Matt Larkin in the race to take on Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier this fall.
The concession in the swing 8th District race came after Dunn fell further behind Larkin in a new round of ballot counts Thursday afternoon.
“I just got off the phone with Matt Larkin and congratulated him on winning the Republican primary for Congress,” Dunn said in an interview. “He ran a really clean issues-oriented campaign. It was an honorable way to run his campaign and I am excited to support him as he runs in the general election.”
Larkin, in a statement, said he was “humbled and honored to have been chosen as the best equipped candidate to defeat Kim Schrier.”
Schrier welcomed the November matchup with a statement saying she’ll be the only candidate protecting a woman’s right to choose and calling Larkin’s anti-abortion views “out of touch.”
With no serious Democratic rivals, Schrier placed first among 11 candidates on the Aug. 2 primary ballot, with 48% of the vote as of Thursday afternoon. Larkin was in second with about 17% and Dunn trailed at a little under 15%. Jesse Jensen, an Army Ranger combat veteran, placed fourth with 13%.
Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse remained in position to potentially survive their Donald Trump impeachment votes and advance to the general election.
But they were not out of the woods — and Herrera Beutler is in danger of sliding to third place versus Trump-backed challenger Joe Kent.
Kent surged in Thursday’s vote count in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, putting himself on a realistic path to advance to the general election.
Herrera Beutler remained in second place with about 23% of the vote, but Kent was on her heels with 22%, trailing by just 1,945 votes. An estimated 45,000 ballots remained to be counted in Clark County, the district’s population center.
Democratic candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez remained in first place with 31%, putting her in position to face Kent or Herrera Beutler in the Republican-leaning district this fall.
Newhouse was in better shape in Central Washington’s 4th District, still in first place with about 26% of the vote as of Thursday evening. Democrat Doug White was in second with 25%. Loren Culp, the Trump-endorsed Republican challenger, was in third with 21%.
In the 8th District primary, Dunn had touted his record as a King County Council member for the past 17 years — in addition to his familiar last name as the son of the late Rep. Jennifer Dunn, who represented the 8th District in Congress from 1993 to 2005.
But attacks by Jensen and his supporters likely took a toll on Dunn, as they highlighted his potential liabilities in a general election due to a DUI conviction and struggles with alcoholism laid bare in an acrimonious divorce.
Dunn, who has been sober for more than four years, has frequently spoken about his struggles and has become a high-profile advocate for addiction treatment funding. He described the attacks from the Jensen camp as desperate and dishonest.
Larkin stayed out of that feud, concentrating on consolidating support among conservatives.
Dunn had been in third place since election night, but had held out hope that later ballots in King County would help him close the gap. That didn’t happen.
The looming matchup this fall will pit Schrier, a pediatrician who as a first-time candidate flipped the 8th District seat for Democrats in the 2018 midterms, against Larkin, who has never held elected office but ran for attorney general in 2020.
Larkin is an attorney who co-owns a Bothell manufacturing company started by his grandfather. He previously worked as a White House speechwriter and very briefly as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Pierce County.
He ran a primary campaign centered on a slogan, “Make Crime Illegal Again,” which won him appearances on Fox News decrying scenes of disorder and public safety problems in the Seattle area.
In his statement, Larkin said voters have sent a clear message “that we are ready to send a representative to DC who will fight to lower inflation, keep our communities safe, and lower the burden on working families — not someone who votes with Nancy Pelosi every chance she gets.”
Larkin’s staunch anti-abortion views are certain to become a key focus for Democrats in the wake of the Supreme Court decision striking down federal abortion protections.
“With the looming threat of a nationwide ban on abortion from Republicans in the other Washington, we can not leave the fate of this district, or this country, in the hands of my anti-choice opponent,” Schrier said in her statement.
In a primary debate, Larkin positioned himself as unequivocally anti-abortion, saying “this is not something we can squish on… we need steel-spined conservatives standing for something.”