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King County drop box.
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Abortion issue comes just in time for the 8th District toss up: Today So Far

Washington's 8th Congressional District is considered a toss up between the Democrat incumbent and Republican challengers. Could the abortion issue influence the vote?

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for May 12, 2022.

As Seattle was reacting to the infamous Supreme Court leak involving Roe v Wade, I had one thought looking forward: What about the midterms?

Part of the local reaction was the usual symbolic votes by councils. These actions usually don't mean anything other than making a statement. But one thing stood out. When the King County Council voted on a statement in support of abortion rights, there was one lone vote in opposition — Reagan Dunn. Dunn is currently running to oust Democrat Kim Schrier from representing the 8th Congressional District. And that is interesting. The 8th District is more up for grabs than before and the abortion rights issue could prove to be a deciding factor for voters. And bigger picture: Democrats are fighting to maintain their narrow lead in the House and Senate this year.

RELATED: If Roe v Wade falls, what does that mean for Washington?

Before Schrier was elected in 2018, the 8th District was steadily represented by Republicans. Schrier flipped the district for the Democrats with just over 50% of the vote. More recently, Washington's district boundaries were redrawn and much of the rural areas around the 8th were thrown into the mix. There's speculation that these new voters (despite areas like Snohomish County favoring Biden in 2020), could swing the district back to a Republican.

Which brings us back to the upcoming midterms and the divisive issue of abortion rights. Dunn is considered a heavy contender for the job. But as KUOW's David Hyde points out, Republicans are trying to thread a political needle on this issue — not alienating the GOP base, while also trying to grab enough votes from independents to win.

Dunn, a Republican, has favored abortion rights in the past, but opted to stand out among the county council on the issue. Dunn told The Seattle Times that he supports a woman's right to make her own decisions, but a government shouldn't be involved; though if a government is involved it should be the states. Which, to put it frankly, is kind of like saying you believe airplanes can fly, but you don't believe in physics or the concept of lift which make it happen.

Dunn went into a little more detail while talking with KUOW, commenting, "I believe it's a decision by the mother."

"I have pretty much the same position my mom did when she served in Congress," Dunn said. His mother, Jennifer Dunn, represented the 8th District from 1993 to 2005 and was considered a pro-choice Republican. "Although this is a twist. She was never asked to make a comment because Roe v Wade was the law of the land."

He is also against any laws preventing women from traveling across state lines to get an abortion. And he doesn't favor any action by Congress to protect abortion rights, or to implement a ban.

Opinions among voters vary depending on the area, demographics, etc. But in general, polls indicate that most Americans favor abortion rights, especially younger voters. And Washington state affirmed abortion rights before Roe v Wade was even decided in 1973.

RELATED: Online ‘aunties’ from Washington offer lodging, abortion pills to people from conservative states

Schrier, the incumbent, is the only female doctor in Congress who supports abortion rights. She recently voted to make abortion legal nationwide, which would have bypassed the SCOTUS decision. That bill did not pass.

"This is a dark day for women, especially women of my age who have grown up at a time when this freedom to make the most important health care decision of our life has been available to us," she told KUOW. "And it is shocking for women older than me who lived through a time when this right was not constitutional."

While Democrats' stance on the issue seems to align with what polls indicate, Republicans may have to answer some criticism. It's sort of odd that the right side of the aisle is so interested in getting the government out of your life and your medical decisions, while it also is paving the way for government to get into women's lives and medical decisions. How will all that add up in Washington's 8th Congressional District?

RELATED: Abortion-rights groups see a surge in donations after Roe v. Wade leak

The district is now considered a toss up between Republicans and Democrats. And aside from Dunn, there are three other Republicans running for the job in the August primaries. With the Supreme Court's official decision on Roe v Wade coming in June/July, this abortion rights issue is likely to be among the top considerations for voters just in time for the primaries and the November midterms.

What else are we reporting on?

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: Missing five-year-old Oakley Carlson, left, next to an image of her former foster parents Erik and Jamie Jo Hiles of Elma, Washington. The couple has concerns about how Washington's Department of Children Youth and Families handled Oakley's child welfare case and the decision to return the girl to her biological parents.
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Missing five-year-old Oakley Carlson, left, next to an image of her former foster parents Erik and Jamie Jo Hiles of Elma, Washington. The couple has concerns about how Washington's Department of Children Youth and Families handled Oakley's child welfare case and the decision to return the girl to her biological parents.
Credit: Jamie Jo Hiles

Missing five-year-old Oakley Carlson, left, next to an image of her former foster parents Erik and Jamie Jo Hiles of Elma, Washington. Oakley is presumed dead after the state returned her to her biological parents. The Hiles have concerns about how Washington's Department of Children Youth and Families handled Oakley's child welfare case and the decision to return the girl to her biological parents. (Courtesy of Jamie Jo Hiles)

DID YOU KNOW?

If you've lived around western Washington for a while, you've probably heard the term "the Issaquah Alps." These "alps" are highlands surrounding Issaquah and are popular with hikers. They include Cougar Mountain, Tiger Mountain, Squak Mountain, Rattlesnake Ridge, among others.

Local hiking author Harvey Manning is credited with inventing the notion of the Issaquah Alps. The name sounds more romantic than "those foothills," which was probably the idea. He also named a lot of the natural features in the area. Manning was so into hiking, and preserving the natural landscape in the region, that he loathed cyclists, especially if they tried to wheel through his precious alps.

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