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Spokane Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has a new challenger

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top woman in Republican leadership in the U.S. House, is being challenged by a Democrat.

Former leader of the Washington state senate Lisa Brown is running for Congress.

Brown announced Thursday that she’s challenging McMorris Rodgers for her eastern Washington seat.

McMorris Rodgers has represented the 5th congressional district – which includes Spokane – since 2005.

But Brown said she thinks voters want change.

"People are very dissatisfied with what's happening in Congress and I realized that our congressional representative here is voting wrong on healthcare and internet privacy, and she's become out of touch with the district," Brown said.

After her time in the state legislature, Brown was chancellor of the Washington State University Spokane campus. She recently resigned from that job.

In announcing her candidacy, she said it’s time for her to get back to work.  

Brown said health care and economic prosperity will be top issues for her. 

In response to the announcement Thursday, McMorris Rodgers said this in a statement:

“I look forward to having a civil discussion of the issues. I listen to and vote for our district. I think voters will discover that my opponent does not fit Eastern Washington very well. Her record is of continual tax increases, more government spending and regulations.”

The 5th congressional district hasn't been represented by a Democrat since Tom Foley was ousted in 1994.

But Brown said she doesn’t believe that’s a problem for her candidacy.

"Spokane and eastern Washington voters are very independent. And I think they care more about results than the ‘D’ or the ‘R’ after the name," she said.

Democrat Matt Sutherland has also announced his candidacy. Sutherland is a recent college graduate and a National Guard officer. Independent Eric Agnew is also running. Agnew is a business manager and college professor.

The top two vote-getters in the August 2018 primary will proceed to the runoff next year for the eastern Washington seat. 

Year started with KUOW: 2015