Former sportscaster Tony Ventrella is headed to the November ballot as the Democratic challenger to GOP Congressman Dave Reichert — even though Ventrella suspended his campaign and won’t try to win.
Former sportscaster Tony Ventrella’s dilettantish foray into politics has left Democrats in a bind and handed Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert an unobstructed path to re-election this fall.
To recap: Ventrella filed to challenge Reichert as a Democrat in the 8th Congressional District, but suspended his campaign in July after just a couple months. He cited personal reasons, but also “tepid” support and a lack of money (he’d refused to ask for campaign donations.)
Ventrella’s decision came too late to remove him from the Aug. 2 primary ballot.
As vote returns came in Tuesday, Ventrella’s name familiarity from his years on KING-TV and other broadcast outlets put him in second place.
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So Ventrella, who won’t campaign, will appear on the ballot opposite Reichert in November.
“I’m on the ballot and I’ll serve if I win,” Ventrella said in an email Wednesday.
He’ll take no campaign donations and suggests people give money to local nonprofits instead. “That is my campaign for the general election. All the attention will be given to people in need,” Ventrella said.
State Democratic Party Chair Jaxon Ravens said “it’s unfortunate the way things turned out.” But he said he’d spoken to Ventrella, who indicated a willingness to help Democratic candidates in Eastside down-ballot legislative races.
“There is no plan, but Tony indicated he’s a team player and wants to be helpful,” he said.
Taking out Reichert was always a longshot for Democrats. The former King County sheriff is in his sixth term and was re-elected in 2012 with 63 percent of the vote.
The 8th District was more competitive before a round of redistricting a few years ago, which redrew it as more GOP friendly territory. The district now stretches from the eastern parts of King and Pierce counties to Chelan and Kittitas counties.
Ventrella’s zombie candidacy trumped two other lesser-known Democrats who were running active campaigns: Santiago Ramos, a Kirkland business owner who previously ran for the state Legislature, and Alida Skold, president of a business-consulting firm.
As of Wednesday, Reichert was winning 57.1 percent of the primary vote. Ventrella was in second place with 17.4 percent and Ramos was in third at 13 percent.