Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rep. Adam Smith may face Democratic challenger Sarah Smith this fall in 9th Congressional District

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Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, might face a challenge from the left this fall, as Democratic candidate Sarah Smith pushed into second place in the primary as new votes were counted Thursday.

Sarah Smith had trailed Republican Doug Basler on election night, but later ballots have trended her way. She moved to a 198-vote lead on Basler as more King and Pierce County ballots were tallied.

“Y’all. See you in November,” she tweeted, later adding there were still many votes to count and that she was “cautiously optimistic.”

In an interview, Rep. Smith agreed he’s likely to face the fellow Democrat, saying, “One would think the [vote] trend from the day would continue.”

The 22-year incumbent said he’s confident about his re-election odds, noting he’d received about twice as many votes as Sarah Smith. As of Thursday, Rep. Smith led with 49 percent of the vote; Sarah Smith and Basler each had about 25 percent.

“I don’t mind being challenged from within the Democratic Party,” he said. “It’s not uncomfortable.”

Sarah Smith, a supporter of Bernie Sanders in 2016, has run as an insurgent progressive, drawing comparisons to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who stunned the political world when she defeated Rep. Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary in New York City earlier this summer.

Tens of thousands of votes remain to be counted, meaning the final outcome may not be settled for several days in the race for the 9th Congressional District, which stretches from Bellevue through south Seattle to north Tacoma.

If the Smith vs. Smith matchup holds, it wouldn’t be the first time a congressional race in Washington has come down to two candidates of the same party.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, was elected in 2016, beating fellow Democrat Brady Walkinshaw in the general election for the 7th Congressional District. And in the 4th Congressional District, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, defeated fellow Republican Clint Didier in the 2014 and 2016 general elections.

The latest vote counts did not entirely settle the closely watched primary battle among Democrats in the 8th Congressional District, where Republican Dino Rossi’s opponent this fall remains unknown.

Rossi, the former state senator and three-time statewide candidate, faced no serious Republican rivals and placed first in the primary, with about 43 percent of the vote, in totals through Thursday.

The leading Democrat, pediatrician Kim Schrier, remained in second place, with about 19 percent. She was just ahead of attorney Jason Rittereiser, who had about 18 percent. The two were separated by just 1,250 votes.

With a dwindling number of ballots remaining, time is running out on Rittereiser to overtake Schrier, but he did not concede Thursday. More votes are expected to be counted Friday.

In an interview, Rossi expressed confidence in his position coming out of a primary, given the contested race among Democrats.

“Whoever comes out of this is broke, and they were fighting with each other … it was a rocky deal for them,” he said.

The 8th District race jumped to national prominence when incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert announced he’d retire rather than seek re-election this year. It has only elected Republicans to Congress, but has backed Democrats for president.

The terrier-shaped district includes parts of East King and Pierce counties, crossing the Cascade Mountains into Central Washington.

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