Washington state Sen. Derek Kilmer today became the first Democrat to announce for the seat of retiring Rep. Norm Dicks (D).
“Norm Dicks may be the best Congressman in the history of Washington State,” Kilmer said in a statement. “No one can fill his shoes, but I’ll work to continue his legacy of fighting for jobs and standing up for the little guy.”
Washington state insiders immediately pegged Kilmer as the likely frontrunner after Dicks announced his retirement Friday. Other names floated included Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown, state Sen. Christine Rolfes and state Sen. Jim Hargrove. The Olympian reported during the weekend that Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist and state Sen. Tim Sheldon could also be interested.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee described the 6th district as a likely hold for the party, while national Republicans in the immediate aftermath were assessing how competitive the district is with Dicks no longer running. Republican insiders in the state said the district is more competitive than some might think.
Possible GOP candidates have been slow to emerge, but business technology consultant Jesse Young, who came up short in the 2010 top-two primary, is already in the race, and frequent candidate Doug Cloud is reportedly running again as well.
The district includes most of three expansive coastal counties, plus Mason County, Kitsap County, which is across the Puget Sound from Seattle, and Pierce County, where Tacoma is located.
Kilmer, who also serves as vice president of the Pierce County Economic Development Board, was born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula and holds degrees from Princeton and Oxford. He was first elected to the state House in 2004 and the state Senate in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010 to the most Republican-leaning district held by a Democrat.