Reichert Seriously Considering Washington Governor’s Race

by Nathan L. Gonzales September 3, 2015 · 1:02 PM EDT

Republican Rep. Dave Reichert is seriously considering a gubernatorial bid in Washington state, according to multiple GOP sources.

The congressman has been the consistent source of rumors for a statewide bid over the past decade. But those rumors were often fueled by House Democrats who wanted him to leave behind a competitive open seat or Republicans focused on the Senate and governorships.

“This time is the most serious I’ve ever seen him,” Mike Shields, the congressman’s former chief of staff, said. Reichert is considering challenging Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, the former House member who is running for his second term next year.

Republicans have come close in gubernatorial races before, including Dino Rossi’s razor-thin, 129-vote loss in 2004, but haven’t won a race since 1980, when quarterback Jim Zorn was throwing touchdown passes to future Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent in the early years of the Seattle Seahawks. Reichert, a former King County sheriff, would give Republicans a legitimate shot at winning next year.

Reichert’s 8th District isn’t as Democratic as it was before the last round of redistricting, but an open seat would be competitive. President Barack Obama won the district 50 percent to 48 percent in 2012 and 51 percent to 47 percent in 2008. Reichert defeated now-Rep. Suzan DelBene, 52 percent to 48 percent, in 2010 under the old lines, but won comfortably in the past two elections.

One source said Rossi, who lost gubernatorial bids in 2004 and 2008 and a Senate bid in 2010, would be a likely candidate for Reichert’s seat, but other candidates from both parties would almost certainly take a look as well.

Back in May, Roll Call’s Simone Pathé wrote about potential GOP challengers to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and included Reichert as a potential contender.

“My entire career I have always kept my options open. I have considered every possibility that has been put in front of me,” Reichert responded vaguely in a statement. It’s now clear that the gubernatorial race is the focus.

We rate the Washington gubernatorial race as Safe for Democrats, until or unless Reichert gets into the race, and the 8th District as Safe for Republicans until Reichert leaves the seat open. Both could become more competitive based on Reichert’s decision.

But as various groups and people compete for Reichert’s candidacy and pressure him into a decision, Shields added one tidbit: “No one will make this decision but Dave Reichert.”