Meet Toby Whitney: A mountain man from Microsoft who wants to run government...wait for a business.
Meet Toby: A tech guy from Amazon who wants to run government—wait for it—with the efficiency of a business. Courtesy of Toby Whitney Campaign

Last month, a supervisor of software developers at Amazon named Toby Whitney jumped into the crowded race for Washington's flippable 8th District. Seven-term Congressman Dave Reichert currently holds the seat, but since the November election he's faced protests outside his Issaquah office from constituents who see him as a rubber stamp for Trump's agenda and as a coward who won't meet them in a town hall setting, mostly because he is and he won't.

Whitney's big beef with Reichert is that he hasn't done anything with his 13 years in office. "Choosing not to meet with constituents in public is malpractice to me," Whitney said, adding, "Meanwhile he’s only had five pieces of legislation with his name on it. The biggest one was the expansion of a national park by 5 miles by 7 miles."

"He's not the leader on any issue, not even law enforcement," Whiteny continued. "There’s no topic he’s mastered."

Reichert's inaction distresses Whitney right down to the very depths of his tenderest business parts. Citing his decade of "building products for Microsoft"—including a contact list thingy for Hotmail—he said the government could learn a few things from business.

Whitney is quick to recognize the differences between business and government—governments can't choose their customers, and you can't just fire elected officials—but he does think his time in the private sector gives him some useful perspective.

"I don’t think the corporations are a terrible thing," he said. "I like building products and having lots of people use them. But it needs to be fair. Right now, corporations are running up the score in the most literal sense. They’ve overwhelmed the government with lawyers, talking points, proposed legislation, and studies they paid for to prove their points. I’ve been in Congress, I've helped organize committee meetings, I’ve worked the regulatory process, I’ve seen how the whole system works—and I also build products for a living. That kind of mix of things is something that would help me do a good job serving people."

Whitney is referring to his time as a congressional aide for former Washington congressman Jim McDermott.
From 1989-91, Whitney was a production assistant with the Congressional Budget Office. "I was the guy who drew the pictures in the studies," he said.

One of the things he remembers most about his time there was a line of approximately 70 people that waited outside the Capitol Building each morning.

"Of those people, 60 of them are corporate lobbyists. Five of them are tourists, and the other five are people who are lobbying for sentencing reform, head start, food stamps paying for a healthy diet, and so on," he said. "I'd worked in the private sector for a while, but when I went back to Congress I was horrified to see the line was still there, but also horrified that members of Congress didn’t see the levels of imbalance that were coming to them. They’d been there too long. They think that's normal."

Though Whitney has bounced back and forth between both Washingtons for a while, he recently moved to Snoqualmie, the very middle of the mountainous area that splits the 8th District in half. Like the state, rural counties dominate the eastern part of the district, while Seattle suburbs dominate the west.

"When I open up my apartment door and look out the window, I’m looking out at the Summit East Ski Area trails," he said. And if he could look past that, he'd see the apartment he's been renting in Seattle.

Whitney says that increasing economic mobility is "the issue of our time," and lists inadequate career training, a broken retirement system, a flailing housing market, and an unstable healthcare system as the primary challenges facing the United States.

Closer to home, Whitney believes the people of the 8th District want "education for their kids and roads they can use to get to work."

He says that supporting students through two years of community college for free is a "phenomenally good idea," but adds that he wants to focus on programs that "train and retrain people throughout their entire careers."

Like everybody else in the race except for the hilariously crotchety Tom Cramer, Whitney doesn't support Medicare for All. "We have to get the people who are uninsured insured, but I think having them insured on Medicare for All would be complicated," he said. "I'm for healthcare for all."

How does he plan to give everybody healthcare? "You could expand Medicare and Medicaid. You could make the exchanges better. There are lots of ways to do it, but the goal is to have the financing simpler," he said.

Mentioning that his mother worked for Planned Parenthood "back in the 1970s," Whitney said he is in favor of a woman’s right to choose.

On Trump, Whitney promised he'd review articles of impeachment if they were drawn up. He hasn't read the resolutions to censure Trump for his comments (and lack of comments) on Charlottesville and to fire white supremacists from the White House, which were introduced by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal last week, but said he thinks "they sound like they’re going in the right direction."

Whitney joins Issaquah city council president Tola Marts, businesswoman Mona Das, prosecutor Jason Rittereiser, pediatrician Kim Schrier, and Bernie Sanders-like figure Tom Cramer in the contest to bring down this guy:

Just give em a town hall, Dave.
Just give em a town hall, Dave. Courtesy of Indivisible Wenatchee

Reichert Watch:
Every time Reichert takes a party line vote that hurts his constituents or introduces needless legislation or does anything at all, we’ll add it to the list.

• In May 2017, he voted against the latest version of Trumpcare, but only after it became clear the Republicans in the U.S. House had the votes to pass it.
• On March 9, he voted for the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
• A week later, after a Congressional Budget Office analysis found the plan could leave 24 million people across the country without insurance by 2026, he defended it.
• Before that, Reichert made misleading statements about threats posed by his own constituents.
• Recently, he voted for the SCRUB act, which creates a regulatory committee to identify and eliminate regulations that don’t directly increase the GDP. The committee’s goals align with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s plan to “deconstruct the administrative state,” but the irony of commissioning a regulatory agency to cut back on regulations is lost on no one, especially not tax payers who are being charged $30 million for the favor.
• Reichert twice voted against forcing Trump to show Congress his tax returns (once in committee and once in a roll call vote), which may illuminate conflicts of interest and business ties with Russia.
• Reichert was the only Washington Republican who voted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.
• In 2014, he proposed a bill that would ban welfare recipients from using benefits to buy weed, despite the fact that such purchases were already illegal.
• In 2010, he voted to maintain “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
• That same year, Reichert suffered significant brain trauma when a tree branch fell on his head. The resulting hand-sized blood clot that formed in his brain went untreated for two months.
• In their 2006 endorsement, The Seattle Times Editorial Board applauded Reichert for his “conscience-driven independent streak,” but, that same year, during a speech before the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, Reichert expressed his readiness to vote along party lines, saying: “When the leadership comes to me and says, ‘Dave, we need you to take a vote over here because we want to protect you and keep this majority,’ I... I do it.” Though he has voted for some land conservation efforts, Reichert describes his pro-environment votes as “chess pieces, strategies” to hold his seat in a swing district. (RICH SMITH AND HEIDI GROOVER)