Washington state is home to one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation this year. The 8th District is one of two dozen seats Democrats are targeting in an effort to take back the U.S. House.
“It’s good,” said voter Ken Workman about the national focus on his district. “It's also kind of scary having this responsibility because it's the whole country. It's a pivotal moment in our history.”
Workman lives in North Bend is also a Duwamish Tribal Council Member and a direct descendant of Chief Sealth.
“The environmental laws are being changed; immigration laws are being changed, even today, even as we speak,” Workman said referencing President Trump's comments that made headlines Tuesday about a proposal to end the right of citizenship for babies of non-citizens.
More than any one issue, Workman says the 8th District race is largely about national politics, the White House, and the Party in power.
“I cast my vote in opposition to, as opposed to in favor of,” said Workman.
A few tables over within the same Issaquah diner, Myrl Venter of Sammamish says she too voted for Democratic candidate Dr. Kim Schrier. However, she acknowledges the race is tight and couldn’t say who has the edge with a week until election day.
“It's a really close race,” said Venter. “Unfortunately, with the vote being split between the east and the west side of the mountains, it's hard to predict who's going to win.”
Recent polling has been mixed; national pundits consider the race a toss-up. While the district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and other Democratic presidential candidates, it’s also always re-elected a Republican to the House.
“This is as close to a coin toss race as you have nationally,” said Political Consultant Ben Anderstone.
Anderstone, who’s also a contributor to Crosscut, analyzed the post-primary precinct results from August and noted increasingly Democratic-leaning territory in Issaquah and Sammamish, an area that largely went blue during the primary, despite Rossi's name ID and roots in the region.
“This is an area Rossi lost by about two-to-one in the primary. That's a tough result,” said Anderstone.
“Now the areas that are really saving Rossi besides the Eastern Washington portions of the district is down in Pierce County, around Bonney Lake and Graham. These are areas that have been moving toward the Republican Party, much like areas like Issaquah and Sammamish move away.”
All are areas with recent population growth, but Anderstone points out the South Sound portion of the 8th District, which includes more working class and Republican-leaning pockets, actually casts more votes than the portions to the north.
“This quite possibly is going to be where the race is decided,” said Anderstone.
Ultimately, the Washington race could, in turn, decide the balance of power in the U.S. House.
“It’s a great responsibility that one shouldn't take lightly,” said Workman. “I would encourage everyone regardless of how they vote, to simply vote.”
“If you're given the privilege of voting, you should go out and vote no matter what your politics,” echoed Venter.
The 8th District encompasses five counties, including King, Pierce, Chelan, Douglas, and Kittitas.
As of Tuesday evening, turnout in King County stood at around 20 percent, Pierce and Douglas counties around 19 percent, and Kittitas and Chelan at nearly 30 percent, according to the Secretary of State’s website.
KING 5 has tried to travel to as many corners of the districts to hear from voters across all counties and viewpoints.