RESULT: TOO CLOSE TO CALL (currently the race is Darcy Burner (D) 49% – Dave Reichert (R) 51%)
Republican incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner are facing off in a rematch for the 8th Congressional District seat. Reichert (R) defeated Burner in a close race in 2006, winning 51 percent of the vote to capture a second term. Immigration was a consistent topic of debate between the two candidates in 2006. It has had a minimal role in the 2008 race thus far, according to analysis of recent news coverage in Washington’s 8th District.
ENFORCEMENT MOSTLY. Reichert believes the borders must be strengthened to protect the nation against illegal immigration, but goes on to say on his website that, “immigration is not just compatible with, but is a necessary component of economic growth.” Congressman Reichert supports employment authorization verification systems, and believes that employers should be held responsible for the hiring of illegal workers. He has also supported legislation to provide additional border patrols and authorize a 700-mile barrier along the border U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to supporting many enforcement proposals, the Congressman also states on his web site that “[w]e must encourage undocumented individuals to ‘get right’ with our government and register.” While this suggests that the Congressman recognizes the need for a pragmatic approach to dealing with undocumented immigrants already working here, Reichert’s record in Congress shows little support for policies beyond the realm of enforcement, as he voted repeatedly to pass enforcement-only laws like the famed “Sensenbrenner bill” (H.R. 4437) that drove millions of immigrants to the streets to protest in 2006. [Reichert For Congress, Accessed 3/19/08, 7/22/08, and 8/6/08]
The Burner Position:
COMPREHENSIVE REFORMER. According to her campaign website, Burner believes the government should bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and put them on a path to earning legal citizenship. She calls her approach, “fair, practical, safe and grounded in the rule of law.” She also says that the U.S. must “enforce existing immigration law, including cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers.” Furthermore, Burner contends, “Because I do not believe in a two-tiered society, I oppose guest-workers programs. Everyone we invite to work in the United States should have the full protection of employment laws and a clear path to citizenship.” In a 2006 debate Burner said a bill that Reichert voted for, H.R. 4437, would “make anyone who served an illegal immigrant in a soup kitchen a felon.” [Darcy Burner for Congress, Accessed 7/22/08]