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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

September 25, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Reichert’s Democratic challenger blasts lack of debates

In all likelihood, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert faces an easy path to reelection this fall.

The 8th Congressional District was remapped into safer territory for the Auburn Republican in the latest round of redistricting in 2012, and Reichert took 62.5 percent of the vote in the August primary.

But does that mean he should get a free ride? Reichert’s Democratic challenger, Jason Ritchie, doesn’t think so. His campaign has been asking for a debate with Reichert since mid-August, to no avail.

“We have reached out to Congressman Reichert for a debate — any place, any time. And he has not responded at all,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie said he wants to take Reichert to task on the 2013 government shutdown, among other issues.

Reichert campaign spokesman Jeff Harvey said the campaign is “evaluating our schedule” but would not commit to any debate.

“Right now our office is looking at the requests we have received from various organizations, trying to figure out which ones we are going to go to,” Harvey said.

The incumbent strategy to limit debate is common — and bipartisan. Democrats including Sen. Patty Murray have frustrated opponents by agreeing to fewer debates then their challengers desired. In 2004, Murray’s Republican challenger, Congressman George Nethercutt, was reduced to touring the state debating an empty pair of tennis shoes. (Murray did debate him twice.)

On Thursday, Reichert is scheduled to hold a fundraiser with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Issaquah. That event is closed to the media. The dinner reception will cost $150 a person for donors, rising to $500 for a photo with Gingrich, and $2,500 to get into an exclusive “roundtable” discussion.

Democrats, including Ritchie, plan to protest outside of the event.

Meanwhile, after mostly ignoring Ritchie all year, the state Republican Party went after him on Wednesday, accusing him of failing to file a required financial disclosure form last year.

Ritchie, a first-time candidate, said he believes he filed all necessary paperwork. He did file a personal financial disclosure form in 2014, but Republicans accused Ritchie of failing to list liabilities, such as student loans, in that report.

Reichert, a former King County Sheriff, has represented the 8th District in Congress since 2005. He is seeking a sixth term this year.

Comments | More in 2014 elections, Congress | Topics: Jason Ritchie, Newt Gingrich, Rep. Dave Reichert

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