Back in January Dave Reichert’s campaign manager publicly gloated over having reached the $1.1 million mark, bragging to reporters that “a war chest of this size will put this race out of reach.”
Well, um, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. The final numbers have now been posted to Political Money Line, and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner — who entered the race as an unknown political novice — ended up outraising Reichert $3,080,275 to $2,989,379. Yes, she lost at the polls, but she made it closer than anybody but the most optimistic blogger had any reason to expect at the time. The race was never out of reach, and it forced the GOP to devote resources to Reichert that would have otherwise been spent defending vulnerable Republicans elsewhere. There is no doubt that Burner’s insurgent campaign contributed to the Democrats seizing control of the House.
With her impressive campaign and fundraising prowess, Burner has virtually assured herself an unopposed shot at the Democratic nomination in 2008, should she choose to seek it. And Reichert has assured himself a busy two years scrambling to raise enough cash to defend a seat in a district that is steadily trending blue. In 2006, Reichert benefited from a 2-to-1 advantage in PAC money (over $1.1 million,) but as a junior member of the minority that easy money might not be so easy.
It’s hard to beat an incumbent whatever the circumstances, and conventional wisdom says that Reichert’s reelection should make it tougher yet. But this will be a tough two years for Reichert. Rumor has it he’s losing several key staffers, and he won’t be able to rely on all the advantages that come from caucusing with the majority. The 8th CD will eventually go Democratic. My guess is that this switch will occur on Reichert’s watch.