Aspiring Republican governor of blue Washington: 'We’re fed up, and we want change'

 December 25, 2023

After decades of liberal control, Washington state is due for a change - at least, that's the message from the man hoping to be the first Republican governor in years. 

Former cop and ex-member of Congress Dave Reichert says he is the "right candidate at the right time" to end the progressive chokehold on Washington - which hasn't had a Republican governor in 40 years and has no statewide Republicans currently serving.

Republican takeover?

Reichert is running for the open seat being vacated by Governor Jay Inslee, a progressive Democrat.

Inslee leaves office with the state in disarray. Like other parts of the country that are controlled by Democrats, quality of life in Washington has taken a hit from crime, homelessness, and steep cost-of-living.

"It’s been [30] years of wandering in the wilderness," Reichert said. "The same government for years, and nothing has changed. We’re fed up, and we want change."

As a former Republican member of Congress, Reichert - who left Washington in 2018 - has a record of success splitting the ticket in a blue state. Before his work in Congress, he was known to residents as the sheriff of King County.

“My name ID in King County is near 65 percent, and in Seattle proper it’s about the same,” he said. “But it’s not just recognizing the name. People feel this connection to me in a personal way because of my experience, especially in the sheriff’s office, but also in Congress."

Shock poll

The state's Democrats were shaken up by a recent poll that showed Reichert with a two-point lead over the leading Democrat, attorney general Bob Ferguson.

“Some of what the poll showed me is that people have forgotten who Reichert is, and we have to continue to remind them of who he is, what he stands for,” said Shasti Conrad, the Democratic Party chair. “He is a Republican in Trump’s America.”

Of course, no matter how you spin it, Reichert is fighting an uphill battle.

The difficulties facing the GOP were made clear in 2022, when a much-hyped effort to unseat Democratic Senator Pat Murray fizzled out.

The issue is whether Washingtonians are capable of being shaken out of complacency. As of now, that remains an open question.

“When they say ‘we can’t win in Washington state’ — we can,” Reichert said. "You can if you’re the right candidate at the right time.”

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