Ballots are in the mail ahead of Washington’s August 7 Primary, and one of the biggest races of the year will be the battle to replace retiring Congressman Dave Reichert, who has represented Washington’s 8th District for the past 14 years.

National political pundits have labeled the open seat race a toss-up, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considers it a priority target. It’s one of the 23 districts nationwide that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but also re-elected a Republican to the U.S. House.

Ballots are in the mail ahead of Washington’s August 7 Primary, and one of the biggest races of the year will be the battle to replace retiring Congressman Dave Reichert, who has represented Washington’s 8th District for the past 14 years.

National political pundits have labeled the open seat race a toss-up, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considers it a priority target. It’s one of the 23 districts nationwide that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 but also re-elected a Republican to the U.S. House.

Republicans have controlled the 8th district since its inception. It spans 7,000 square miles and crosses the Cascades, encompassing portions of more conservative counties including Chelan and Kittitas, as well as increasingly Democratic suburbs of eastern King County.

The Republican front-runner in the race is Dino Rossi, a former state lawmaker and statewide candidate who is expected to easily make it through the upcoming top-two primary, but there are three Democratic front-runners vying for that second spot.

Attorney Jason Rittereiser was one of the early entrants into the race last July. At just 34, he’s also the youngest in the race - a millennial who grew up in Ellensburg but moved to Western Washington for school and work. He served as a prosecutor for King County, then in private practice as an employment attorney.

“I think there is a lack or gap in leadership between folks who are running our country today and people like me,” said Rittereiser, who also believes his cross-Cascade appeal gives him an edge.

“If we’re going to represent this district, we’ve got to be able to unite the Cascade mountains,” he said. “People are concerned about economic issues. They’ve largely been left behind the growth problem

in Seattle and aren’t experiencing the type of economic security and prosperity that other folks are experiencing in more urban areas."

"I think we need to fight hard to protect workers rights, stand up and fight for them to rebuild a working class that works for everybody," Rittereiser continued.

Pediatrician Kim Schrier of Issaquah entered the race last August in the months following the Republican Congress’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I live two minutes from here,” she said of her practice. “I would go home at lunch and call Reichert’s office, and my husband would listen in and say, you should just run against him.”

Schrier says she laughed off her husband’s nudge at first, but ultimately decided to challenge the Republican incumbent. That was before Rep. Reichert announced last September he would not seek re-election to Congress.

Now, she’s competing in an open seat but considers herself the front-runner, based on her fundraising lead and support from influential local and national groups, including Emily’s List.

“I have this record of listening to and going to bat for my patients. This just pivots it in a little different way,” said Schrier. “Now, I’m listening to and going to bat for the people in this district, whether that is a family up the street, or an orchardist, or an aerospace machinist in the southern part of our district. It’s just a matter of listening and hearing what’s on people’s minds and then being able to take that to the halls of Congress.”

Schrier, who is also a mom, has decorated her campaign office with protest signs collected over the past year, including one that reads: "Last year I marched, this year I'm running."

“Frankly, I think a lot of our representatives have just lost touch, and that’s what I can bring to the table. I’m the community pediatrician who has been working with the families in this district, and I’m excited to take those voices to D.C.,” she continued.

Schrier isn’t the only doctor turned candidate in the race. Dr. Shannon Hader, who grew up in Auburn and graduated from Auburn High School, announced her candidacy this past January. Prior to entering the race, she worked for the Centers for Disease Control where she served as the director of the division of Global HIV and TB.

During her career at the CDC, Hader worked under four different presidential administrations, both Democratic and Republican, including the first nine months under President Trump.

“At this time when things are going backwards at such a fast rate, I don’t think we can afford to have someone sort of put on training wheels or learn how the government works before they get going. So I’m the only candidate in this race who can start to deliver day one,” said Hader, who believes her federal experience gives her a leg up, despite a late start on the campaign trail.

“My head’s down,” said Hader. “I’m going everywhere in this district, I’m knocking on doors, I’m talking to people, I’m listening. To them, that matters. It matters for mobilizing voters to get excited about this race, which is what it’s going to take to win.”

Each of the three Democratic candidates acknowledges flipping the expansive and geographically diverse district will be an uphill battle in the fall.

"This is a unique district," said Rittereiser, who calls it a “microcosm of the country."

“At its core, it’s really small town, working-class folks,” he said.

“We’re diverse,” said Schrier. “We’re diverse economically; we’re diverse culturally."

Schrier adds the kitchen table issues across the district remain the same. She lists health care, the cost of prescription drugs, housing, and jobs as some of the key issues.

“When I go through this big purple district, we’ve got Democrats, we’ve got Republicans, we’ve got purple,” said Hader. “The number one thing I’m hearing all across is frustration with lack of action, lack of results.”

In a highly polarized, politically uncertain time, voters in the 8th say they also want bipartisanship. But, first, they’ll have to endure what promises to be a highly partisan election season in the months ahead, since the 8th is one of the swing districts that could ultimately impact who controls the U.S. House.

“Having a competitive primary has sharpened us all as candidates, and whoever makes it through this primary needs to be a really sharp candidate to take on an established politician with great name recognition,” said Schrier, referring to Dino Rossi.

KING 5's primary profile of Rossi will air on Friday night. The voting period for the August 7 primary begins on Friday, July 20.

Related: KING 5 Inside Politics mini-debate with the three Democratic front runners