U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, will not run for an eighth term in 2018.
The recently-turned 67-year-old congressman said in news release Wednesday that his decision was made in terms of what was best for his family.
“After spending time during the August work period with family and friends, reflecting on the past, discussing the future, and celebrating another birthday, I have decided this will be my last term and I will not run for re-election in November 2018,” Reichert said in a statement. “It was not an easy decision but I believe it was the right one for my family and me. I have spent my entire career and devoted my life to service. I see this not just as a job, but as a calling – a calling I will not walk away from.”
Reichert’s decision creates a political opportunity for Democrats who have been looking to flip his 8th Congressional District seat and regain control of the U.S. House. Democrats have been lining up to unseat Reichert, who represents a “swing district” that includes parts of eastern King and Pierce counties, spans the Cascade range and stretches to Kittitas and Chelan counties.
State Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, is among the candidates rumored to be considering the seat for the mid-term election. Stokesbary, a Duke University educated and Notre Dame Law School graduate, works outside of the Legislature as a lawyer.
Reichert has been the target of much criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. That pressure has increased, most recently from his constituents and opponents who have attacked him for not holding public town hall meetings.
In response, Reichert said such gatherings have “degenerated into shouting, yelling and screaming matches.”
Opponents also have urged Reichert to vote down the House GOP health care plan that passed in May. Reichert was one of 20 Republicans who broke party lines and voted against the bill.
For Reichert, the decision to retire comes after a long career devoted to service.
He was a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves for six years, worked with the King County Sheriff’s Office for 33 years, becoming the sheriff himself in 1997, and most recently served as a seven-term moderate in Congress.
Reichert gained national prominence for his role as the King County sheriff who helped bring Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, to justice. It served as a springboard to higher office for Reichert, first elected to Congress in 2004.
Reichert, in his release, touched on many of his achievements, notably efforts to protect the environment and lives.
“In my congressional career, I have always strived to improve the daily lives of my constituents and preserve the majestic beauty of our region,” he said. “Whether it was through my work to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, improve our foster care system and combat sex trafficking, or secure equipment and resources for our first responders, I have taken this honor and responsibility seriously.”
“Early on, the importance of trade to the region was clear. From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world,” he said. “Now, at this critical time, serving as the first Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade from Washington State, I remain steadfast in my commitment to Washington’s workers, manufacturers and growers – the best in the world.”
Reichert acknowledged there is more work to be done before he leaves office.
“As I finish my last term in the U.S. House of Representatives, I will continue to fight for hard working families, small business and all that makes our community great,” he said.
Calling Reichert a friend, King County Councilman Reagan Dunn praised Reichert for his work
“He has done a terrific job and I am very proud of what he has accomplished for all of us,” Dunn said in a statement.
“Serving in Congress is very challenging and I watched my late mother, Jennifer Dunn, fight many battles there, as Dave has,” Dunn added. “But the environment in Congress has become increasingly challenging for our elected leaders.”