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The Teflon Sheriff: Is Reichert unbeatable in WA’s 8th?

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Nov. 3, 2010 at 11:39 am |
November 3, 2010 1:40 pm

In coasting to an early victory last night, Republican incumbent Dave Reichert’s fourth successful bid to Congress appears to be his easiest to date in Washington’s politically fickle 8th District.

Overall, Reichert – obviously benefitting from last night’s strong GOP wave – is winning by nearly 10 percentage points. The latest tallies as of this morning have him up 54.60 percent to Democratic challenger Suzan DelBene’s 45.40 percent.

Keep in mind that King County still has 100,000-plus votes to be counted, and Pierce County has more than 27,000 ballots out. But if trends hold, Reichert’s success this election year easily eclipses his best efforts to date when compared to his three previous campaigns for the 8th.

(In drilling down deeper into last night’s numbers, Reichert bombed DelBene in Pierce County – roughly 60 percent to her 40 percent – which comprises 20 to 25 percent of the 8th District vote from election to election, depending on turnout. The ballot tallies in Democrat-leaning King County are far closer, but Reichert still holds a comfortable advantage there, too — up about 53 percent to 47 percent.)

For comparison purposes, here’s how Reichert fared in his past Congressional campaigns:

Year/Candidate Total King Co Pierce Co.
2004/Reichert 51.5 49.95 57.93
Dave Ross (D) 46.7 48.33 39.92
2006/Reichert 51.46 50.07 57.41
Darcy Burner (D) 48.54 49.93 42.59
2008/Reichert 52.78 51.22 58.73
Darcy Burner (D) 47.22 48.78 41.27
2010*/Reichert 54.60 52.68 60.04
Suzan DelBene (D) 45.40 47.13 39.58

(* With ballot counts still to come.)

Reichert’s victory kept alive an undefeated string of Republican victories for the U.S. House in the 8th dating back to 1980, when the Congressional district was configured.

Considering that Democrats couldn’t take Reichert out during the Obama sweep in 2008 – when second-time-around-candidate Darcy Burner outraised the former King County Sheriff by more than $1.4 million – and given his strong showing last night, Reichert appears untouchable.

Year after year, he’s been consistently out-raised in campaign contributions. He’s overcome several campaign gaffes (READ: The “chess pieces” speech; the Glass-Steagall response). And this year, he was even loath to debate his challenger, taking heat from the media in doing so.

But none of it seems to stick to the Teflon Sheriff  with big-time local name recognition — even in a 50-50 swing district that in recent elections has tilted towards Democrats in other big races.

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