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Reichert focuses on crime in bid for Washington governor

Former sheriff served seven terms in House before retiring in 2019

Former Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., plans to tap public anger about crime on the streets as he runs for governor.
Former Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., plans to tap public anger about crime on the streets as he runs for governor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Dave Reichert will try to tap public anger over crime on the streets as he makes a run for the open governor’s seat in Washington, a state his party has not controlled for more than four decades.

“I’m running for governor to protect the vulnerable, to help small businesses and keep people safe,” he said in a video announcing his launch. “I’ve spent an entire lifetime devoted to those three things, and I know I can make a difference.”

A member of the moderate wing of the party, Reichert is seeking to be the first Republican elected governor in Washington since 1980. He served seven terms in the House and was a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership. In his final term, which ended in early 2019, he chaired the Ways and Means trade subcommittee and supported trade promotion authority.

The governor’s office is open because Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee, another former House member, is not seeking a fourth term. Raul Garcia, a doctor who had announced a run for governor in May, dropped out of the race to endorse Reichert. Garcia, who placed fifth in GOP primary for governor in 2020, reportedly will run now for Senate against four-term Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Prior to his election to Congress, Reichert was King County sheriff after working first as a patrol officer and later as an undercover agent and made a sergeant. 

“I believe government should be open and responsive, not pitting one region against another, one generation against another, one family against another,” he said in the video. 

While in the House, Reichert would buck his party. In 2009, he voted opposite his party 32 percent of the time, according to CQ vote studies data. In 2017, he voted alongside 19 other House Republicans against repealing the 2010 health care law. 

Immigration was one area where he disagreed with other members of his party. In July 2015, he was one of five Republicans to vote against a “sanctuary city” measure that would prohibit federal grants from going to states or cities that have policies that block police and sheriffs from gathering information about a person’s citizenship or immigration status, or from giving such information to federal immigration authorities. Earlier that year, he was one of 20 Republicans voting to keep language in the fiscal 2016 Defense appropriations bill supporting military service by people who came to the country illegally as children.

In an interview with The Seattle Times after announcing his campaign, Reichert said he thought that concerns about crime and public safety could help Republicans to win in a blue state.

“Look, we’re tired of being victims of crime. We’re tired of our businesses being looted. We’re tired of our windows being broken. We’re tired of our streets being used as a public toilet. We’re tired of our streets being used as a place where you can buy, use and sell drugs. The cities in our state are beginning to decay. … People would agree we’re circling the drain,” he said.

While he considers himself pro-life, he reportedly supports exemptions to laws prohibiting abortion access in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. In a separate interview with the King 5 television station, he said he wouldn’t seek to change the state’s abortion laws. 

“I am not running for governor to seek power,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is to empower other people. And well, the other people, are the people of Washington State.”

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