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Five vie for 9th Congressional seat
Incumbent Rep. Adam Smith is facing off against four challengers in the Aug. 7 primary election in pursuit of his ninth term in the 9th District, which looks a lot different than it did four years ago.
District boundaries changed greatly this year, making it the state’s first district where non-white residents are the majority. The district’s boundaries also shifted northward, adding Bellevue and Mercer Island to Renton and a number of South Seattle cities. Bellevue used to be in the 8th Congressional District, represented by Dave Reichert.
It also became a more Democratic district, according to voting records, with more than 60 percent of the area’s residents voting Democrat in three previous key elections, according to the Tacoma News-Tribune.
“You can’t really draw a line around the old and new 9th District,” Smith said. “We are a regional economy stretching at least from Everett to Olympia.”
Smith said jobs and the economy are his biggest priority, with the education system and transportation projects close behind. He promoted his record of working with businesses, which he said will serve him well in the new 9th, which includes many of the state’s largest and most influential companies.
Challengers to the seat include two Republicans, a progressive Democrat, and a member of the LaRouche Democrats. Each has voiced different political philosophies, but the one similar message among them is change.
Those on the right side of the aisle want to see change in terms of balancing the budget, whereas the Democratic candidates want to see a supportive Congress that makes job creation easier.
Several of Smith’s challengers see an opening with the changing district lines, though none have yet to pose a serious threat to the Seatac Democrat in terms of financial support. Smith has raised nearly $800,000, according to opensecrets.org, while his closest opponent, Jim Postma — whom Smith defeated in 2008 by a 65-35 margin — has raised $50,000.
Postma, an engineer and former Air Force officer, believes the new district boundaries may be able to get him the additional 15 percent he needs to draw even with the longtime incumbent.
Postma, who said he has grandchildren with Indonesian ancestry, said the new demographics of the district will be beneficial for his candidacy.
“Having lived with minorities for 20, 30, 40 years, I understand them, and I think it could help me in this election,” he said.
Postma, whose number one priority is paying down the national debt, will likely compete with Tom Cramer, Dave Christie and John Orlinski for a spot against Smith in the general election. None of them has held a state or federal office.
Cramer, who has a long-standing relationship with President Barack Obama from a failed attempt to run for Congress in Illinois, bases much of his candidacy on fixing the growing income gap in the country. He would like to see middle class citizens retain lower tax rates, with some of the burden shifting to the country’s upper crust, who Cramer said faced less tax responsibility as the decades passed.
“I want to represent this middle class, the working class, the poor class in this country who want a better deal and more jobs,” Cramer said.
Orlinski is a Republican who supports Mitt Romney, but he defies some of the party’s core platforms. Like Postma, he places high importance on balancing the budget, but unlike many Republicans, he would like to see some higher taxes, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, at least for the rich. He says he believes in some of the policies propagated by Ron Paul, such as ending military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and scaling back federal government responsibilities to the core values of protecting the country and running the most essential services.
“We are borrowing too much and spending too much,” he said. “I don’t think we have the rights to do this to our future children and grandchildren.”
Christie, one of five members of the national LaRouchePAC slate, did not respond to calls requesting comment. He has based much of his campaign on the desire to impeach President Obama on various accusations, including taking the country to war without congressional consent.
Nat Levy is a writer for the Bellevue Reporter, a sister publication of the Mercer Island Reporter.