Fresh off his fourth re-election win on the King County Council, Reagan Dunn has announced he’ll challenge incumbent U.S. Congresswoman Dr. Kim Schrier, a Democrat, to represent Washington’s highly competitive 8th Congressional District in the country’s House of Representatives.
Dunn, a Republican, confirmed his candidacy for the 2022 midterms in a phone call Monday, Nov. 29. News of his candidacy was previously reported by the Seattle Times that day.
Dunn said his decision to run for the position now is based on the skills he’s picked up on the county council and his “deep concern” over the direction the United States is heading in under its current leadership.
“I worry that this country shows the initial signs of maybe being in decline, and I don’t ever want to leave the United States of America … in a weaker condition than I found it,” Dunn said.
Tackling substance abuse, crime, border security and government spending would be the major pillars of his campaign, Dunn said.
He would be following in the footsteps of his mother, Jennifer Dunn, who served six terms as a Republican representing the 8th Congressional District from 1993 to 2005. She died in 2007.
Dunn’s campaign will be chaired by former King County Sheriff and seven-term District 8 Congressman Dave Reichert, who retired from Congress in 2018.
In a release from his campaign, Dunn cast the 2022 election as a “fight for the future” of Washington and the U.S. amid “skyrocketing violent crime, massive inflows of illegal drugs … and out-of-control government spending and inflation.”
Second-term incumbent Dr. Kim Schrier, 53, is a pediatrician who entered politics during the Donald Trump presidency, animated by frustration with then-representative Reichert’s handling of the GOP healthcare bill aimed at abolishing parts of the Affordable Care Act.
Schrier became the first Democrat to represent the 8th Congressional District since its creation in 1983, after narrowly defeating Republican businessman and former State Senator Dino Rossi in 2018.
She won re-election by a similar margin in 2020 against Republican U.S. Army Veteran and Amazon senior project manager Jesse Jensen. Schrier currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce and Agriculture committees, and previously served on the Education and Labor committee.
Schrier already faces challenges in 2022 from Jensen and Matt Larkin, a lawyer who ran for attorney general last year. Jensen, Larkin and Dunn — all Republicans — aim to flip the highly competitive 8th District back to red.
Schrier’s campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Carlson sent the following statement regarding Dunn’s announcement:
“No one works harder for the people of the 8th District than Congresswoman Schrier. And her focus is on the priorities that matter, like helping get people back to work in good paying jobs, getting our economy back on track so that more families can get ahead, and getting more Americans vaccinated – so we can beat this virus once and for all and get life back to normal.”
Dunn, a former federal prosecutor, is a fixture of local politics, having represented the District 9 of the Metropolitan King County Council since 2005. District 9 covers the southeast portion of the county from the tip of southern Bellevue all the way to Enumclaw, and geographically covers much of the same region as the 8th Congressional District.
Dunn won another four years on the King County Council this year against Democratic challenger and Renton City Councilmember Kim-Khanh Van. Were he to lose his bid for Congress, Dunn would simply remain on the county council.
If he won election to Congress, though, Dunn would have to vacate his seat on the council after being sworn in at Washington D.C. in January 2023. At that point, the King County Executive would nominate three candidates, and the remaining King County Councilmembers would appoint one of them.
Dunn would then become the second in his family to represent Washington’s 8th Congressional District, a possibility that he acknowledged adds “a little extra fire in the belly” for his campaign.
“I grew up around the dinner table with my mom,” he said. “My mom was my best friend, my chief ally and greatest mentor. … I’d like to think she’d be proud of my decision to run.”
The 8th Congressional District is in the public eye for another reason: The state Supreme Court recently approved the political maps drafted by the bipartisan State Redistricting Commission, which will significantly alter the geography of District 8 by bringing a big chunk of Snohomish and King counties into the district.
The commission’s proposed maps were technically null, since the commission released them a day after their Nov. 15 legal deadline. But the task then fell to the Supreme Court, which adopted the late maps after being urged to do so by the redistricting commissioners.