Paul Ryan-Linked PAC Sets Up Shop in Toss-Up Washington District Held by Republicans for Decades

Field office in Washington's 8th is one of 31 opened by Congressional Leadership Fund

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan / Getty Images
April 8, 2018

A Super PAC affiliated with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R, Wisc.) has set up shop in a Washington congressional district that has been controlled by Republicans for decades but is now in peril of switching to Democrats this November.

Washington's 8th congressional district, which is located in the suburbs of Seattle and boasts a population of nearly 700,000 residents, is now up for grabs after Rep. Dave Reichert (R.) said he will not seek reelection. Reichert, who announced his retirement shortly after turning 67, has represented the district since 2004.

Reichert found a way to comfortably win the district even as it has swung to Democratic presidential candidates. The seven-term congressman defeated his opponent, Democrat Tony Ventrella, by nearly 21 points during the 2016 elections despite Hillary Clinton garnering 3 percent more of the vote than President Donald Trump. George H.W. Bush was the most recent Republican presidential candidate to carry the district, in 1988.

Republicans, however, have held the seat on the congressional level since the district's creation in 1980.

Democrats only need to flip 24 seats to win back the House of Representatives and now sense an opportunity to topple Republicans at the congressional level in the 8th for the first time. Eleven Democrats entered the primary—eight remain—and the Nancy Pelosi-affiliated House Majority PAC has already purchased airtime in the district.

With the threat of a "blue wave" this November, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a Paul Ryan-linked Super PAC, has opened an office in the 8th to boost Washington State Senator Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate, and push back against Democratic efforts.

"Rossi has run statewide a couple of times and carried the district each time he's run," Michael Byerly, the national press secretary of the CLF, told the Washington Free Beacon. "He won the district before and he's not taking it for granted this time either."

The CLF will focus on 50,000 to 80,000 voters in the district they believe could push the election to their favor. One full-time staffer and a team of interns will also be phone banking and door knocking in the district, Byerly said. Like elsewhere in the nation, the CLF will push tax reform and local issues that are important to voters. Pelosi will "definitely" play a role in the district.

Kim Schrier, a pediatrician, is considered the top Democrat of the eight candidates vying for the nomination. Schrier is leading the field in fundraising and has been endorsed by a number of liberal groups including EMILY's LIST and Indivisible, which is closely linked to a number of anti-Trump groups.

The CLF's goal for this election cycle was to toss the "old Super PAC model" of raising millions, hoarding it until shortly before an election, and then dumping it into TV advertisements in October.

The CLF is one of the first Super PACs to invest millions of dollars into a data driven national field program, which consists of field offices across the country. Every office will operate in the same manner as Washington's 8th, with one staffer and a group of interns targeting 50,000 to 80,000 voters on issues that are important to them within their districts.

The CLF recently expanded the program to five additional districts, including Washington's 8th.

"We have long known Republicans will face a challenging environment this midterm election cycle, and that’s why CLF has been focused on growing our data-driven national field program since February 2017," said Corry Bliss, CLF executive director. "CLF staff and volunteers have been engaging with voters on a daily basis, and the fact that we have knocked over 8 million doors is a testament to the strength of our field program. This micro-targeted focus on ground game will be a key component to maintaining the Republican majority in 2018."

The group now has 31 field offices and says it has contacted 8 million voters to date.

Published under: Paul Ryan