Susan DelBene, director of the Washington Department of Revenue, is entering the 1st District congressional race as a Democrat.
She is the latest entrant in the crowded scramble for the seat being vacated by Jay Inslee, who wants to be governor.
The First District now includes almost all of Whatcom County outside Bellingham.
Here’s the press release from DelBene outlining her qualifications:
Kirkland, WA — Former high tech entrepreneur Suzan DelBene announced today that she is leaving her current post as Director of the Washington State Department of Revenue, effective immediately, to enter the race for Congress in the newly redrawn 1st Congressional District.
“The 1st Congressional District is a diverse district that has been hit hard by the Great Recession. It needs a representative in Congress who has the experience and the innovative ideas that will get our economy back on the right track and create jobs, and I believe I offer those qualities,” DelBene said. “In Congress, I plan to work with President Obama and with members of both parties to break the hyperpartisan gridlock in Washington, D.C. in order to strengthen oversight of Wall Street, protect consumers and assist those in need, and boost the middle class.”
DelBene is a former senior level Microsoft executive. She has also worked in biotech and microfinance, and has helped launch two technology start-up companies. That private sector business experience, in combination with her recent high level government service, which focused on supervising more than 1,000 employees while working to streamline Washington State’s tax code to assist small businesses, immediately make her the most experienced candidate in the race on issues of job creation and economic recovery.
Prior to running the Department of Revenue, DelBene narrowly lost to incumbent Dave Reichert in the race for the 8th Congressional District in 2010. With redistricting, DelBene’s home is now located in the new 1st Congressional District, a true swing district open seat with many moderate Democrats and independent voters.
Politically, DelBene is not easily pigeonholed. A pragmatic and experienced leader, DelBene is known for her independent streak, analyzing each issue as it comes to develop thoughtful policy positions. A pro-choice social progressive who advocates for stricter regulation of Wall Street and rejects the anti-government extremism of the Tea Party right, DelBene is also a fiscal moderate who believes in working across party lines to enact reforms to streamline government and make it more efficient and responsive.
In her 2010 race, DelBene won wide praise for running a substantive campaign that emphasized thoughtful reform proposals. In endorsing DelBene over Reichert, the Seattle Times described her as a candidate with a “sharp business and entrepreneurial skills and an acute understanding of what went wrong” with the national economy and said, “her resume is a narrative of leadership and vision.” The paper praised DelBene’s support of tough Wall Street reforms that went beyond those offered by President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress, and approvingly cited her support for bringing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to an end.
And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer also endorsed DelBene, describing her as “an impressive political newcomer” and a “smart candidate” who would “quickly gain influence in Congress and bring needed skills to the job.”
In that campaign DelBene demonstrated strong fundraising skills, raising more than $4 million, including contributing $2.2 million of her own money. In announcing her candidacy today, DelBene stated that she will have the resources she needs to run a strong campaign.
“I did not make this decision lightly. I did my homework before deciding to enter the race. I believe I have the right skills and experience to represent the 1st Congressional District, and I am fully committed to winning,” DelBene said.
End press release
Here’s a list of other Democratic candidates who are running in the 1st District, provided earlier by Whatcom County Democrats:
• State Sen. Steve Hobbs, Lake Stevens
• Laura Ruderman, Kirkland, a former state legislator
• Two-time Congressional candidate Darcy Burner, Redmond (She will be in Whatcom County Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13 and 14, and I expect to have a chat with her.)
• Darshan Rauniyar, businessman, from Bothell
• Roger Goodman, Kirkland, a state representative.
The GOP candidates I know about at this point include Snohomish County Council member John Koster, who ran a tight race with Rick Larsen in the 2nd District two years ago; Greg Anders of Whatcom County; and Larry Ishmael, who tried to unseat Inslee in the past.