A second candidate has jumped in the race to represent Capitol Hill, and most of Seattle, in Congress. King County Council member Joe McDermott announced Wednesday he is running for the District 7 seat long occupied by the retiring Rep. Jim McDermott (no relation).
The announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise. The West Seattle Democrat said he was considering a run after state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw was the first to announce in December. Walkinshaw, who lives on Capitol Hill and represents the 43rd District, has already raised some $300,000 ahead of his launch party at The Crocodile February 2nd.
After serving 14 terms without one truly close election, Jim McDermott’s exit sets up one of the most interesting Seattle congressional races in decades. Expect more candidates to announce ahead of the May filing deadline.
As a member of the Sound Transit Board, McDermott has made key planning and funding votes on the U-Link light rail line, including giving final approval to the Capitol Hill Station housing and retail plans submitted by developer Gerding Edlen. The board also identified projects on the docket for Sound Transit 3 funding, including the recently shortened Madison BRT.
On the council McDermott has pushed for reforms in County’s juvenile justice system, despite a tiff with anti-youth jail activists last year during a vote that paved the way for overhauling the current 12th and Alder youth jail.
As the first openly gay member of the King County Council, McDermott has been seen as a somewhat quiet leader on LGBTQ issues. He was a supporter of marriage equality while representing the 36th District in the State Legislature. After Washington voters passed same-sex marriage in 2012, he earmarked $50,000 of King County marriage license fees to go to programs that help at-risk queer youth.
A top priority McDermott identified in his announcement was overturning Citizens United, the Supreme Court case that lifted the floodgates to corporate cash in elections. He also vowed to be a strong advocate for stricter gun laws.
“For too long, politicians in Washington DC have kowtowed to the National Rifle Association,” McDermott said in a statement. “It is past time that we pass tough background checks, ban military style assault weapons plaguing our communities and once and for all hold gun manufacturers liable for the over thirty thousand deaths they cause in our country every year.”
McDermott has represented West Seattle on the King County Council for five years. He served nine years in the State Legislature prior to joining the council.
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill resident Ian Imhoff recently launched an “exploratory Twitter profile” for the District 7 race. Imhoff, 27, runs an artist management firm called Xavier MGMT and has spent most of his working life toiling in Seattle’s music industry.
When did thinking big, when did thinking differently, when did having dreams become so outrageous in this country? It's time to dream again.
— ImhofForCongress (@Imhof2016) January 18, 2016
Imhoff says he’s waiting to see who else jumps into the race before making a decision to run, but he isn’t deterred by stiff competition lining up or his relative lack of name recognition.
“Having gone to a major college or previously being in office should not have anything to do with getting elected,” he said. “Anyone who wants to run should run.”
As an independent candidate, Imhoff said he would champion adequate opening for infrastructure projects, campaign finance reform, and stricter gun laws with a soft spot for hunters and sport shooters. Aside from a short lived write-in campaign for Whatcom County executive, this would be Imhoff’s first real election.
Also not ruling out jumping into the race, District 3 City Council member Kshama Sawant and state Sen. Pramila Jayapal.
UPDATE 8:10 AM: Jayapal is in… probably. Her office has scheduled a Thursday afternoon media conference where it is expected the busy State Senator will announce her 7th District candidacy.
Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal to Make Announcement Today Regarding
Open 7th Congressional District SeatToday, Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal will make an announcement regarding the open seat in Washington’s 7th Congressional District. After serving 14 terms with honor as a progressive champion, Rep. Jim McDermott recently announced that he will not seek re-election.WHAT: Sen. Pramila Jayapal makes announcement regarding open seat in 7th Congressional DistrictWHEN: 2:30pm PST, Thursday, January 21, 2016WHERE: Seattle Central College, Room 1110, near South Plaza entrance to main building, 1701 Broadway, Seattle 98122
UPDATE x2: It’s official:
Consider it announced pic.twitter.com/D4lJK8WWol
— Bryan Cohen (@bchasesc) January 21, 2016