Dr. Kim Schrier, a pediatrician at Virginia Mason who's lived in Issaquah for 16 years, has entered the race to knock seven-term Congressman Dave Reichert off his throne in the 8th District.
Her campaign website contains very little information about her policy positions, but it does contain a resume. She went to Berkeley for Astrophysics (take that, Tola), UC-Davis for med school, and she did her residency at Stanford, all of which is impressive. She's "fluent in Spanish" and has a "long history and heart for the Latino community." She developed Type 1 diabetes as a kid, which is tough, but she says it drove her to become a doctor.
But whatever blah blah blah: We got ourselves a campaign video to watch. Everyone grab some popcorn and prepare to meet the doctor.
I guess the chair thing is a little overdetermined, but it's a nice reference to the "empty chair town hall" that members of Washington Indivisible organized for Reichert in Cashmere, WA, last February.
I'll be back with more on Schrier once I figure out where she stands on some key issues.
Over the phone Tuesday morning, I ran Schrier down a quick list of progressive talking points.
What does she think about Medicare for All? "Whether or not we can get to Medicare for All over night, I don't know," she said. "But I think we start by expanding Medicare, show how amazingly successful and viable it is, and then expand it further. Medicare is so efficient! It has a 3 percent overhead, while insurance companies have a 30 percent overhead."
Does she want to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour? She does.
But what about free college? Another Democratic challenger, Tola Marts, is talking about free tuition for the first two years of community college or vocational school. Tom Cramer is talking about free in-state tuition or vocational school for everybody. But Dr. Kim Schrier thinks we need to be talking about high school.
"I support two years of free college, but the focus on free college education perpetuates a myth that the only way to achieve a productive life is through university education," she said, adding that college graduates are coming out of school now with debt in the hundreds of thousands. "Instead of being ahead of the game, they're falling behind," she said.
So she says she's into "making sure that our high school graduates are well prepared."
"We need to enrich our high school education."
"Our kids need to come out more competent in math, science, writing, and critical thinking, and we need to double down on that," she said.
Ahhh, now I see.
On the topic of a woman's right to choose, Dr. Schrier could not be clearer: "I 100 percent disagree with the [DCCC's] decision to support anti-choice candidates," she said. "This is just not a decision the government should make for women. I am 100 percent pro choice and 100 percent for Planned Parenthood. I support Planned Parenthood, I marched for Planned Parenthood in Kent—they tried to get rid of Planned Parenthood in Texas and they got a 27 percent increase in pregnancies the first year. I really think women need to be at the table for these kinds of decisions, and it's just another reason we should have women doctors in congress."
The biggest problems facing the 8th—and the world—for Schrier are healthcare, climate change (which she called "the big moral question of our time"), education, and the economy.
She decided to tackle these issues in a political way, she said, following the election of Donald Trump. "Like everyone else I hoped there'd be some checks and balances. But what I've seen is a series of destructive decisions come down the line, and Reichert has gone along with them 85 percent of the time," she said.
"Healthcare was the last straw," she continued. "After I'd been marching and protesting and calling everyday, a friend pointed out that I was a pediatrician, and a woman, and said now was the time for someone who understands healthcare to be at the table when decisions are being made."
Schrier stresses that she has no ambition to be a career politician, and admits that, if elected, leaving her practice will be difficult. "My patients have a lot of mixed feelings about my running—I've been taking care of their kids for their whole lives—but I'm hoping I do more for the country in congress than I do just in my office," she said.
There are now five Democratic challengers running for Reichert's seat, not including Poga Ahn, who filed with the FEC a while ago but who took down his website a few months ago. Read my gossipy first impressions of Tola Marts, Mona Das, and Jason Rittereiser, and also my obligatory post about the race's Bernie Sanders figure, Tom Cramer.