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Dino Rossi concedes; Kim Schrier wins in 8th Congressional District

Kim Schrier. (Dyer Oxley, MyNorthwest)

Republican Dino Rossi conceded Wednesday night, making Democrat Kim Schrier the winner in the 8th Congressional District race.

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Rossi posted on Facebook, “I believe we ran the best race that we could have run this year and left it all on the field. I look forward to returning to my life as a husband, father, neighbor, and volunteer.”

“I think we have heard a loud message,” Schrier told KIRO Radio Wednesday morning. “That people are tired of a Congress run by career politicians who aren’t working for the people in this district and they are so ready for a fresh voice, and a pediatrician who is ready to go to bat for them, just like I have gone to bat for my patients.”

Schrier said that she knew a lot of people were not going to vote for her, as the 8th Congressional District was expected to be a close call. She thought is was possible she would be waiting for weeks to get an official call. But Schrier says that she worked to create “good will” among all voters. She feels that taking the time to meet people in their communities — that aren’t too Democratic — went a long way.

“I asked what what was their priority, what they most wanted,” she said. “And you know what I heard a lot of? Honesty, transparency, getting money out of politics, and addressing health care. I think we all share a lot of the same concerns. That’s why I think I can be a successful Congresswoman.”

“Just yesterday, I had a gentleman who was clearly not voting for me and after our brief conversation, he came over in his truck and said, ‘Ya know, I just wanted to stop and thank you for coming by. And we may not agree on any policy issue, but I think we can get along,'” she said. “I love that conversation.”

Schrier’s agenda

Among speculation about what to expect from Congress now that Democrats have taken a majority is the potential for impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“Let’s work on checks and balances, and let’s make sure we have oversight, and not just overlooking,” Schrier said.

“People can ask (about impeachment) all they want,” she said. “This is a moderate district and I think what we need is for Congress to do its job of oversight. Frankly, I don’t think it matters if you are a Democrat or a Republican — if we have a foreign country meddling in our elections, if we have potential conflicts of interest, if we have corruption, it should be investigated.”

Campaign ads against Schrier claimed that she favored a state income tax.

“I am running for federal office, I have absolutely nothing to do with a state income tax,” she said. “…Do you really think that (campaign attack ad) was a mistake?”

Health care issues are what Schrier says she is putting first.

“Number one on my agenda is to work to make sure that every family in this country, and certainly in my district can afford the health care that they need; that we take on big pharma and bring down prescription drug prices,” she said. “We have the voice of a woman doctor in Congress, the only woman doctor in Congress to stand up for women’s reproductive rights. And my goodness, we need to take on campaign finance reform.”

Schrier said she will “sit down at the table of anyone” who will work on lower drug costs, even the president who has said he wants to take down prescription drug prices and continue protections for pre-existing conditions. She adds, however, that many politicians are in the pocket of big pharma, which poses a challenge.

“In terms of pre-existing conditions, we’re hearing a lot of rhetoric from people who have consistently, I believe 65 times, tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Schrier said. “So I would say, let’s watch what they do, not just listen to what they say.”

The votes

Ron Dotzouer with Strategies 360 told KIRO 7 that King County was a major factor in this race.

“The turnout was huge in King County,” Dotzouer said. “… The women voters in the suburbs turned out and they voted for Kim.”

When Congressman Dave Reichert decided to retire this year, it opened the 8th Congressional District to a fight between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have long aimed to take the district, which has been steadily held by Republican representatives since it was created in 1983. Yet voters have opted to vote for Democrats in other races.

That combination of factors led to a very tight race between Schrier and Rossi this year. Polls leading up to the election were close, and few dared to predict who would take the 8th District. A New York Times poll released days ahead of the election had Schrier at a slim three points ahead of Rossi.

The Democrat also out-raised Rossi for campaign funding. As of October, Schrier’s campaign raised $5.3 million in contributions, which was $1 million more than Rossi’s campaign. Schrier notes that she has taken no corporate PAC money during her campaign, which she says will be an advantage as she works toward lowering drug prices.

Both candidates hail from Issaquah. Schrier is a pediatrician. This was her first time running for office. She promoted that the Trump tax cuts benefited residents who didn’t need them, and did not provide enough help to middle and lower classes. She said that it was wrong for the United States to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Schrier also said she favored making Medicare a public option for health care.

Rossi is well known among Washington voters. He represented Washington state Senate’s District 5 from 1997 to 2003. After that, he ran for governor, but was eventually beat out by Democrat Christine Gregoire. He ran for governor again in 2008 and lost. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 and lost. He has since been appointed to fill terms for vacant state positions, most recently standing in for the late Senator Andy Hill.

Rossi argued that the Democrat aimed to raise voters’ taxes by more than $2,000 by reversing the Trump tax cuts. He said that Trump was right to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Rossi also said Schrier favored a government takeover of health care.

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