Former sportscaster pulled out of 8th district race – now he's headed for the general
First, former Seattle area sportscaster Tony Ventrella jumped into the race. Then, he jumped out. But his name stayed on the ballot.
And then he surprised everyone, including himself, when he came in second in the top-two primary last month. That got him – a candidate who was out – back into the general election in November against six-term Republican Representative Dave Reichert.
This week, Ventrella officially jumped back into the ring for the 8th district race southeast of Seattle.
"It wasn't necessarily that I flip-flopped," Ventrella said. "The voters, at least 17 percent of them, said we still want you to run. So I thought, OK, I respect that, I honor that, it's an opportunity, I'm going for it."
But why take on Reichert? Supporters see Reichert as a relatively moderate member of the Republican Party at a time when many Washingtonians say they worry about extreme polarization.
Ventrella admitted that Reichert has at times worked with Democrats. But he also said Reichert's part of an "obstructionist block" in a Republican-controlled Congress.
"I think it's a clear choice between someone who is a moderate Democrat and someone who is quite a conservative Republican," Ventrella said. "You need to give the public a choice, and they'll make it."
Reichert disagrees (naturally). He said he's got a strong bipartisan record in Congress and back home.
"I came from a law enforcement background that lends itself to working with every segment of our society, from the poorest of the poor to the wealthiest of the wealthy," he said. "I don't care if you're Democrat or Republican, if you need help and you call my office, you'll get it."
Can Ventrella win? After all, Reichert won far more votes in the primary, around 40 percentage points more.
"It is what it is," Ventrella said. "And it is a long shot, there is no question about that. I am not kidding myself on that one. So I understand where it is, I just want to give people a choice."