How the Roe opinion threw a wrench in the GOP’s planned takeover of WA’s 8th District

May 11, 2022, 5:25 PM | Updated: May 13, 2022, 11:03 am
Abortion-rights activists demonstrate outside the U.S. Capitol on May 11, 2022 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A bevy of Republican candidates is looking to upset 8th Congressional District incumbent Kim Schrier (D). One of them, Reagan Dunn, a sitting King County councilman, is primed to come under fire for his position on women’s reproductive rights ahead of the 2022 primary.

An independent poll, conducted by Cook Political Report, currently places the 8th District as a tossup: Dunn leads among Republican challengers, edging out Jesse Jensen by a 6% margin, according to a Washington State Republican Party straw poll.

Tuesday, the King County Council voted to pass legislation declaring council support for reproductive freedom: that the Roe v. Wade decision is the “law of the land” in King County, even if overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reagan Dunn was the lone vote against the non-legally binding resolution. Appearing in a GOP debate in March, Dunn described his “libertarian position on … abortion,” framing a potential U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade as a win for state rights.

“I do not support federal funding of abortions. I do not support late-term or partial-birth abortions,” Dunn said.

“At some point, you have to decide when what’s happening here is too far along, especially a partial-birth abortion, that constitutes something of taking a human life.”

Caleb Heimlich, Chairman of the Washington state GOP, believes voters will not take abortion into the ballot box, citing the unlikelihood that “abortion is going to be decided at the federal level.”

“For whom you’re voting in Congress is probably not going to change that. If this is the final decision on Roe, it will kick the decision back to the states, legislators, and people voting through initiative. The vote for Congress is going to be more about what do you want the federal government to look like over the next two years,” Heimlich told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

According to Rantz, that argument holds water when viewed from the perspective of a more rural electorate in places like Buckley, Enumclaw, Eatonville, or Orting.

“Expanding and celebrating abortion, instead of treating it the way they used to as a tough and serious choice, is not going to speak to [those voters]. The issue just reminds them that Kim Schrier is a Seattle progressive out of step with the district,” Rantz said.

Schrier immediately spoke out on the leaked Roe v. Wade draft opinion upon its unofficial release, saying in a statement, “I’m waking up this morning like so many of you—devastated and angry. If this draft opinion is true and is issued, it’s a massive step backward.”

“My message to people voting in November is that this is serious and that they need to pay attention to what is happening around the country. And they need to know that I am the only pro-choice woman doctor in Congress, and that I will always stand up for a woman’s right to make her own very personal medical decisions, and that the government should not be making these decisions for her,” Schrier told KIRO Newsradio’s Gee and Ursula.

“I believe Reagan Dunn has just given a gift to the Democrat incumbent Kim Schrier. Just a reminder: a majority of voters in Washington are pro-choice. A majority of the country wants Roe v Wade to be protected in some form. But just looking at the state of Washington, and our history here, in 1970, we became one of the first states to decriminalize abortion before Roe v. Wade,” KIRO Newsradio’s Ursula Reutin said.

History of abortion laws and politics in the Evergreen State

Rep. Schrier has previously voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation re-proposed in the U.S. Senate Wednesday afternoon.

“If inflation wasn’t through the roof, and the Democrat position on abortion wasn’t now endorsing abortion up until the child starts to cry after birth, whoever is the Republican challenger in WA-08 would have a tougher time,” Rantz said on the subject of how the leaked opinion will affect a Washington voting electorate which, historically, has rejected efforts to restrict abortion access.

The 8th District will be an obvious proving ground for the success of that strategy — reframing the election narrative away from abortion and onto the economy.

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How the Roe opinion threw a wrench in the GOP’s planned takeover of WA’s 8th District