Rep. Brady Walkinshaw will challenge Jim McDermott in 2016 House race

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Walkinshaw (right) with his 43rd District colleagues. (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill’s young state representative announced he is making a run at the other Capitol Hill in a bid to unseat the state’s most senior congressman. Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, the 43rd District’s junior representative, announced on Thursday he planned to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott in 7th Congressional District election next year.

“I’m running for Congress to offer a fresh start,” said Walkinshaw, a 31-year-old gay Cuban-American who lives on Capitol Hill. “We cannot expect a change in Washington D.C. unless we are willing to elect new kinds of leaders from Washington State.”

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott

McDermott is deeply entrenched in Washington state politics. The 78-year-old former U.S. Navy psychiatrist was first elected to the state House in 1970 and served four terms in the state Senate. In 1988 he was elected to Congress and won every reelection race since without any major opposition. In 2014 he was reelected with 81% of the vote.

Unseating McDermott, who is considered among the most progressive members of Congress, is an ambitious goal for Walkinshaw’s first contested race. After working for the Gates Foundation, Walkinshaw was tabbed by Democrats to replace Sen. Jamie Pedersen who took over Ed Murray’s Senate seat when he became mayor. Walkinshaw then ran unopposed for the seat the following year.

Walkinshaw also heads into the race without an endorsement from his two 43rd District colleagues, House Speaker Frank Chopp and Sen. Pedersen, who also lives on Capitol Hill. The race tees sets up an internal struggle among Seattle Democrats over the next year, but could also have implications for Seattle’s socialists.

The 7th District is one of the most liberal in the country and likely offers City Council member Kshama Sawant the best opportunity to make it to the national stage as an elected official — though she would need to move north. With Sawant committed to another four years on City Council, Walkinshaw’s 2016 bid could potentially head off a messier race down the road with the socialist firebrand or another Democrat in the mix.

The 7th District covers the majority of Seattle and Capitol Hill, but leaves out a substantial section of the city south of E Madison. McDermott is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for writing tax policy.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed two of Walkinshaw’s bills with Capitol Hill ties. Joel’s Law would strengthen involuntarily commitment guidelines for people suffering from mental illness. The bill was inspired by Joel Reuter who died on Capitol Hill in 2013. Walkinshaw’s other bill expanded access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the deadly effects of a heroin overdose.

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17 thoughts on “Rep. Brady Walkinshaw will challenge Jim McDermott in 2016 House race

  1. No Democrat in Olympia should think about a step up until they have got the job done of funding education.

    Also, so Speaker Chopp and Sen. Pedersen have endorsed this move? That tells everything I need to know.

  2. Walkinshaw should focus on doing the job he was elected to do and funding McCleary first. McDermott’s doing fine; I want to see more contested races at the state level.

  3. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then if we re-elect the same people over and over again we should expect nothing at all to change. If the status quo is fine, then we need no new people or new ideas. If we want change, we must vote for change.

    • This is overly simplistic. Not every politician needs to go. Some people are doing good work and McDermott is one of them. So is Elizabeth Warren. Since you like evoking cliches try this one . . .Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

  4. Growing up I deeply admired Rep. McDermott. I loved him leaving office to do medical work in Africa, his take down of Newt Gingrich, his criticism of our invasion of Iraq. But it’s time for a change. We should have a representative who effectively PASSES legislation they sponsor, pushes the House forward on big issues, and uses their position to help elect other progressives in this state. Where’s our Barney Frank? Where’s our Russ Feingold or Alan Grayson? McDermott is a senior representative, from a safe district, gets 80% of the vote and doesn’t need to raise money. He should be our Nancy Pelosi. Instead he’s nowhere to be found. He’s not a major player. We need someone with a ton of energy who can make political deals and get legislation passed.

    Sad to say, It’s time for Jim to go, and we now have a credible, effective, smart leader to replace him with. Check out Brady Walkinshaw. You’ll like him. And he’ll need your support as the old guard of the Dem. establishment will stick with the incumbent, over and over and over and over and over and over again even if there are no results. Let’s make this change.

    • I agree. In all his years in Congress, I can’t think of a single bill he has initiated and gotten passed. Can anyone? He is a follower and not a leader.

    • There IS a learning curve…politicians don’t just show up and be effective on day 1. Sure, there’s a point past which it might be time to go, but a perpetually-newbie congress would be even more horrendously useless than the one we have now.

  5. McDermott has been elected to Congress for 13 terms….what has he done except vote the right way? And I do admire him for voting to not invade Iraq.
    But shouldn’t we expect more? This is not going to be a tough re-election district for a liberal democrat.
    I don’t know if Brady is experienced enough….really? In “our” US Congress? Somehow, I think he will figure it out. If Murray and Pedersen aren’t backing him, it may be because they experienced as they are, he got the jump on them.
    Why shouldn’t our district, a SAFE district, be involved in the work of the US Congress? With McDermott in, I don’t feel any pride in being a voter in the 43rd…just business as usual, the liberal variety.
    By the way….I am tired of people hating politicians…we made them…we vote or don’t…who is going to run our lives? Your choice.

    • I feel the same way about all our State representatives. How much legislation have we seen out of Pedersen, Chopp or Walkinshaw. I actually feel like Chopp doesn’t even really advocate for Seattle’s best interest. That’s the problem, just being the Democratic nominee is an automatic win – you don’t actually have to do anything in this district.

      I’m not a fan of Sawant, but I will say that she’s my only elected official who gets things done (mostly by liberal guilt shaming the other council members, but hey it works!)

  6. Change for the sake of change is actually a terrible idea. I don’t know who this Brady Walkinshaw is, two low post bills do not make a decent argument that he should replace one of the most respected local politicians.

    Try harder and make a better case or the answer is no.

  7. McDermott had accomplished a lot more than Wlkinshaw. After serving in the military and as a physician, in 1974, he ran for the state senate, and subsequently was re-elected three times, to successive four-year terms. “During this time, he crafted and sponsored legislation that would eventually be called the Washington State Basic Health Plan, the first such state program in the country.” These and other accomplishments since being elected are pretty well outlined here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_McDermott