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Friday, February 06, 2004 - Page updated at 12:45 A.M.

Reichert jumps into congressional race on Republican ticket

By Warren Cornwall
Seattle Times Eastside bureau

King County Sheriff Dave Reichert after announcing he will run for Rep. Jennifer Dunn's seat in Congress.
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King County Sheriff Dave Reichert announced today that he will run for Congress on the Republican ticket in a bid to replace outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. Jennifer Dunn.

Political observers have named the 53-year-old sheriff as a top Republican contender, following Dunn's surprise announcement Friday that she would not seek a seventh term representing the 8th District, which covers much of South and East King County and parts of Pierce County.

Reichert made the announcement at a noon news conference today in Bellevue.

Reichert has already won accolades from some Republican leaders, with his credentials as a veteran lawman who helped track down Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway. Last year he was courted as a potential Republican candidate for governor, a race he declined to enter.

Yet, he remains something of a political unknown.

The sheriff's office is a nonpartisan position. Reichert was appointed to the post in 1997 by King County Executive Ron Sims, and was elected in 1998 and 2002. While he has been critical of some of Sims' budgets for the sheriff's office, he also endorsed Sims, a Democrat, in the 2001 election.

Reichert in the past has avoided declaring his party affiliation because he didn't want to politicize the sheriff's office, Urquhart said.

"He clearly thinks of himself as a Republican, allies himself with Republicans," Urquhart said.

Reichert has already won support from one prominent conservative, talk-show host John Carlson. Carlson announced Tuesday that he wouldn't run for Dunn's seat, and heaped praise on Reichert.

"I'd like to see a compassionate, conscientious cop in the United States Congress looking after his district and staring down al-Qaida," Carlson said.

Reichert joins a large field of potential candidates.

On the Republican side, that includes Pat Herbold, King County Republican chairwoman; Republican National Committee member Diane Tebelius; King County Councilman David Irons; state Sens. Luke Esser, Pam Roach and Cheryl Pflug; Bellevue Mayor Connie Marshall; and Bellevue City Councilman Grant Degginger.

Among Democrats, Alex Alben, a Mercer Island resident and retired RealNetworks executive, is the only declared candidate. Tony Ventrella, a news anchor for KCPQ-TV, has said he is considering running. State Rep. Laura Ruderman of Kirkland and Medina resident Laurie McDonald Jonsson also have been mentioned.

Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or


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