The Republican House leadership has worked hard to help Rep. Dave Reichert craft an image as an independent moderate… an image he needs to maintain if he’s to have a hope of winning reelection in Washington’s moderate, independent-leaning 8th Congressional District. Indeed, Reichert publicly admitted as much:
“Back in Washington, there are lots of games played. […] Sometimes the leadership comes to me and says, “Dave, we want you to vote a certain way.” Now, they know I can do that over here, that I have to do that over here. In other districts, that’s not a problem, but here I have to be able to be very flexible in where I place my votes. […] That’s where I need to be in a fifty-fifty district.”
The fact is Reichert has never cast a single vote against the White House or the House leadership when it really mattered, and now Karl Rove is rewarding him for his loyalty by sending President Bush on a rare visit to campaign for a House Republican in his home district. On Friday, the President will appear at high-donor fundraiser in Medina, where he expects to raise over half a million dollars on behalf of Reichert. And if the media does its job explaining the context of this visit, it should come at a political price.
Make no mistake: President Bush is making an extraordinary effort on behalf of the 8th CD’s freshman congressman because he knows that Reichert is a reliable vote. And Reichert is welcoming Bush into his district because he is a staunch supporter of the President and his policies.
As November approaches, the Republicans will attempt to localize the election by trying to make it a race between the silver-haired sheriff and an unknown, untested newcomer. But voters need to understand that this race in this district is about whether we want to leave our nation’s future in the hands of President Bush and the GOP leadership, unchecked and unbalanced. A couple weeks ago Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told a local audience that the Democrats cannot take back the House without winning WA-08.
If you had any doubt that Reichert is little more than just one more rubber stamp in our Republican controlled rubber stamp Congress, President Bush’s visit Friday should put it to rest. Reichert is as loyal a Republican as they come.
President Bush’s visit also makes one other important statement about this race: that it is incredibly tight and that Republicans are incredibly worried. Few GOP candidates are willing to appear with such an unpopular President, but well… Reichert desperately needs the money. Darcy Burner shocked both the GOP and the Democratic establishment by outraising the incumbent in the first quarter, and Reichert needs a huge second quarter to reassure his base. The President’s visit will do that for him.
Rather than despair, Democrats are turning lemons into lemonade. The Burner campaign is asking you to give as much as you can in the days before and after Bush’s visit, to help offset Reichert’s presidential-visit cash advantage. The campaign has set an ambitious $75,000 goal, and I urge you to contribute directly. The campaign has set up a special donation page where you can track the progress.
I also urge you to share your voice. A rally will be held Friday at Westlake Center, starting at 11:15 AM. President Bush’s very public embrace of Reichert is big news, and we want to give the media every reason to cover it.