No debates. No cash advantage. No problem.
Not so far, at least.
In his fourth bid for Congress, Republican incumbent Dave Reichert held a comfortable lead early over first-time campaigner and Democrat Suzan DelBene in the race for Washington’s 8th District seat representing eastern King and Pierce Counties.
After the first ballot drops Tuesday, Reichert, the former King County Sheriff from Auburn, held leads in both King and Pierce Counties over DelBene, a high-tech entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive from Medina.
Reichert was expected on-hand at tonight’s GOP Election Night party at the Bellevue Hilton.
“We’re very optimistic about the early returns,” Darren Littell, his campaign spokesman, responded in an email after the first returns.
If trends hold, Reichert, 60, is headed for victory despite a strong negative campaign mounted against his record by DelBene, 48, who sunk $2.3 million of her own money into the race. In all, she was out-raising Reichert $3.8 million to $2.3 million as of the last campaign finance reports.
DelBene spent her money on a deluge of ads that hammered Reichert’s Congressional votes against such measures as Wall Street reforms and equal pay for women in the workplace.
Reichert, meanwhile, attacked DelBene as a “down-the-line liberal”, trying to define the previously little-known candidate as a spawn of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite her first-time candidacy and moderate fiscal platform.
The former lawman appears to be overcoming speculation that questioned his fitness for office due to a recent head injury; and his own campaign gaffes. He was recorded telling a GOP group earlier this year that he uses his pro-environment votes as “chess pieces” to help hold his seat. And, at a recent candidates’ forum, Reichert said he was “unfamiliar” with the Glass-Steagall Act, a longtime banking regulatory law that’s become a hot political issue amid the nation’s financial meltdown.
Reichert also ducked public debates with DelBene, despite her repeated challenges and various organizations – including The News Tribune – offering to host such an event.
In his fourth campaign, Reichert has proven to be a venerable candidate, appearing so far to hold onto a perennial vulnerable seat in a fickle swing district despite strong challenges from well-financed opponents for each of his past Congressional contests.