Everyone wants to know which of the three top Democrats will face off against Dino Rossi in the race to fill Dave Reichert's seat in Washington's 8th district.
On Thursday afternoon, Kim Schrier's campaign clearly wanted to give the impression that the pediatrician from Samammish has this one in the bag. Her team released part of a poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showing the candidate with a 28-point lead on Shannon Hader, her nearest Democratic rival according to a count of..."173 self-identified Democrats." Not the largest of sample sizes, but okay. All told, Greenberg polled "402 likely 2018 primary election voters in Washington's 8th Congressional District from April 9-12, 2018," but Schrier's campaign only sent out the tidbit about the 173 self-identified Democrats.
When asked for comment, Democratic candidate Jason Rittereiser, a former King County prosecutor from Ellensburg, offered up a pretty strong rebuke.
The campaign called the poll "bogus" because Schrier didn't release "any raw data." They also suggested Schrier pushed out these numbers in the first place as "a clear overreaction to divert attention from the King County Democrats assessment that they were 'not as impressed' with Kim Schrier." In a statement directed at Schrier, Rittereiser concluded by saying, "If attempting to mislead the voters of the 8th district is your way of trying to distract from losing out on an endorsement, it raises doubts about your ability to go toe-to-toe with Dino Rossi in the fall.”
But about that endorsement Rittereiser mentioned. Tuesday night the King County Democrat Central Committee gave their unanimously endorsed Shannon Hader, a former manager at the Centers for Disease Control who hails from Auburn. Following the nod from the country Democrats, Hader's campaign released a quote from committee co-chair Laura Williams saying “(Hader) has more experience, better experience" than other Democrats in the race. Rittereiser's campaign quoted a member of the KCDCC Interview Committee calling Schrier "a distant third."
I've written to Sharon Mast, acting chair of the King County Democrats, to confirm these statements, but I haven't heard back. Will update if I do. You can watch the whole meeting on Facebook.
However, Joshua Trupin, a state committee member representing the 5th Legislative District, which is the largest LD in the 8th, said he "felt it was premature to single out one candidate far above the others."
"The 5th LD voted not to endorse any combination of the candidates because there are three outstanding candidates," he said. “I didn’t do a head count, but I think that most of [the endorsement committee who voted for Hader] were from inside Seattle. We had different results from the same process. I don’t think this is a way to narrow the field right now," he added.
So, basically, this county-level endorsement doesn't exactly reflect other parts of the county. And have you been following the King County Democrats lately?
ANYWAY. Schrier's campaign is taking the high road when it comes to criticisms about the poll she released. "Numbers don't lie," (haha tricked you) a campaign spokesperson said, "Voters are tired of petty political jabs like Mr. Rittereiser's. It's no surprise that he's struggling on the campaign trail. In the meantime, we'll let the data speak for itself."
Rittereiser is behind, but "struggling" is a bit strong. In terms of fundraising, Rossi leads the way with $2 million. Schrier trails that with $1.1 million. Rittereiser has raised nearly $600,000, which puts him in second place if you're looking at individual donors as an indicator of support. (Hader has technically banked just over $600,000, but she gave herself half of that.)
Schrier has the largest endorsements, Rittereiser has the largest number of endorsements, and Hader is gaining more endorsements by the day. Other candidates, donors, and activists say Schrier got some help from the Washington State Democratic Party early on in the race, but the party and Schrier dispute their claims.
The other weird thing about Schrier's poll was the inclusion of Chris Vance's name among the candidates. Vance is a former Washington State Republican Party Chairman and current ~radical centrist~.
Vance told me he isn't running in the 8th Congressional District and does not plan to "unless something dramatic changes between now and the filing deadline," which in mid May. He wouldn't define what "dramatic" meant.
Vance guesses he was included in the poll because "there have been rumors" he was going to run. He doesn't know who started the rumors, but he says "prominent Democrats" have asked him not to run. Which prominent Democrats? "I'd rather not say," he said. Why are we talking about Chris Vance right now? Because he claims he's seen other polling that shows that "'undecided' leads everybody, then Dino Rossi because he's the only Republican, and then everybody else is in single digits," which tells a different story than Schrier's poll. He wouldn't tell me who conducted the poll or when he saw it, but says it'll be out next week.
I'm sure Republicans and ~radical centrists~ don't mind watching the Democrats bicker with each other over April polls, but neither do I. The candidates aren't doing much work to differentiate themselves in terms of policy, which forces voters to make a decision based on personality and profile. Watching how they choose to respond to each other will be valuable for voters who want to know how the candidates will fare against Rossi, who runs pretty vicious campaigns.