How to use this guide

If you're here, you want to be an informed voter — maybe you already are! 

This guide won't tell you who to vote for, but should help you make your choices. We're a nonprofit so we don't make political endorsements of any kind. What we do is publicly driven journalism. To create this guide, we developed a multiple-choice survey to determine where candidates fell on a spectrum of opinions. Those answers — and candidate bios — make up the meat of this guide. The potatoes are tips and links that will help you do things like register to vote and turn in your ballot, as well as learn about Washington's unique systems.

Read more on our methodology below.

What's at stake

Washington voters are about to choose their next representatives to Congress and the state Legislature.

The state government redrew its Congressional Districts this year — find yours on a map.

U.S. Senate

Senators represent the entire state in the legislative branch of the federal government. In Washington, the top two candidates of August's primary will advance to the general election in November.

Patty Murray

Longtime U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is running her sixth campaign for the Senate this election cycle. She easily cruised to victory in 2016. The former teacher and Bothell native is the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate. Murray has long pushed for paid family leave and increasing federal dollars for child care subsidies. She has also been a fierce supporter of abortion rights. Her foray into elected office began on the local school board, moving on to the Washington state House and eventually the U.S. Senate. Murray sat down with Crosscut for a virtual conversation in 2020. She's raised over $11 million for this campaign.

Tiffany Smiley

The most competition Sen. Patty Murray will likely face in this election comes from the Tri-Cities. Republican political newcomer Tiffany Smiley is a former nurse turned advocate for veterans’ rights after her husband lost his eyesight in a suicide bombing in Iraq, according to her campaign site. Her first campaign initiative focuses on tackling veteran homelessness through a housing-first model paid for by one-time funds in the American Rescue Plan. Also on her campaign site, Smiley questions the integrity of the 2020 election. Responding to the recent Supreme Court decision over abortion rights, Smiley says, “I am pro-life, and I am pro-woman.” She has raised more than $4.2 million for her election campaign.

Congressional District 1

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 1 includes parts of King and Snohomish Counties, including Kirkland and Bothell.

Vincent J. Cavaleri

Of the five candidates who filed to run against Suzan DelBene, one has challenged her twice before and all have raised little or no money, except for Vincent Cavaleri, a Mill Creek City Council member. The Republican attended Everett Community College and has served as a deputy with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office for more than two decades. If elected, Cavaleri says he would make public safety his top priority. He believes “safe communities are those that do not defund their police department,” according to his campaign site. He has about $56,000 in the bank for his campaign.

Suzan DelBene

Suzan DelBene has served in the U.S. House since 2012. In the past five elections, DelBene easily won in her reliably safe Democratic district, and this year is likely to be much the same. Her proposal to send monthly payments to parents became the expanded child tax credit in the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill. The Democrat is endorsed by the Sierra Club and lots of unions, including the Service Employees International Union and the Washington State Labor Council (AFL-CIO). She spoke to Crosscut in January 2021. The former Microsoft executive has raised about $1.4 million for the race

Congressional District 2

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 2 includes part of Snohomish County and the entirety of Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan Counties — including Mt. Vernon, Bellingham and Oak Harbor.

Rick Larsen

Rick Larsen, a longtime member of Congress, first won his seat in 2000. He supports continuing COVID-19 relief programs for essential workers, extending federal unemployment assistance and increasing federal dollars for child care. Larsen serves on the House Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. Known as a moderate Democrat, Larsen is part of the New Democrat Coalition, self-described as Democrats committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation and fiscally responsible policies. Larsen attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. He’s endorsed by gun accountability groups, the Sierra Club, local Democratic Party organizations and numerous labor unions. He has raised about $827,000 for this campaign.

Congressional District 3

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 3 includes part of Thurston County and the entirety of Skamania, Lewis, Pacific, Clark, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum Counties — including Vancouver and Longview.

Joe Kent

Donald Trump-endorsed Joe Kent is the only candidate rivaling Jaime Herrera Beutler in the fundraising department, bringing in more than $1.85 million so far, including $205,000 from a personal loan plus about $107,000 from the Joe Kent Victory Fund PAC. Last fall, the former Green Beret co-headlined an anti-vaccine event with Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Kent has called for more investigation into the 2020 election and signed on to lawsuits claiming widespread voting manipulation, which were largely dismissed for lack of evidence. On the campaign trail the Republican has criticized Herrera Beutler’s vote in support of impeaching Trump. He lost his wife when she was killed in 2019 while conducting special operations against ISIS in Syria. Read more about the District 3 race on Crosscut.


Related reading:

• Kent, Perez brawl over two different Americas in WA congressional race

• Trump's presence hovers over WA primary elections

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is the only Democrat in the 3rd Congressional District race who has raised any money. She owns an auto repair and machine shop with her husband. If elected, Perez says she will make expanding career and technical education a priority. And work to lower the costs of healthcare and quality affordable childcare, which she says her family can’t afford so instead her toddler comes to work with her everyday, according to her campaign site. She didn’t intend to run for Congress, she told Oregon Public Broadcasting, but Republicans packing into the race compelled her to throw her hat in the ring. The first-time candidate has about $67,000 in the bank for the election. Read more about the District 3 race on Crosscut.
 

​​​​​​​Related reading:

• Kent, Perez brawl over two different Americas in WA congressional race

Congressional District 4

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 4 includes part of Adams and Franklin County and the entirety of Okanogan, Douglas, Grant, Benton, Yakima and Klickitat Counties — including Kennewick, Yakima, Moses Lake and Omak.

Dan Newhouse

Incumbent Dan Newhouse is facing his fifth election for the seat in the right-leaning district. Newhouse voted to impeach Donald Trump, motivating several challengers to enter the race. The Republican says he’s “100% pro-life and will defend the unborn,” and The National Rifle Association gave him an A rating, according to his campaign site. He has pushed for years for the cleanup of the Hanford Site. He served in the Washington state House from 2003 to 2009. Newhouse is a third-generation Yakima Valley farmer, and his family operates an 850-acre farm. He has more than $1.2 million in the bank for his campaign. Read more about the District 4 race on Crosscut.

Related reading:

• Trump's presence hovers over WA primary elections

Doug White

Doug White comes from a family with a long history of farming in Central Washington. He’s the only Democrat in the race for 4th Congressional District. White is focusing his campaign on water, immigration and energy independence, according to his website. He wants to see the state accelerate carbon-free energy production and revamp the process for receiving work visas used by agricultural workers. White graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. and San Jose State University with an M.A. He worked internationally in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong as a global project manager before returning to his family’s farm and business. He has raised about $231,000 for his campaign. Read more about the District 4 race on Crosscut.

Congressional District 5

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 5 includes part of Franklin and Adams County and the entirety of Stevens, Pend Oreille, Ferry, Lincoln, Spokane, Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, Asotin and Whitman Counties — including Spokane, Pullman, Lewiston and Walla Walla.

Natasha Hill

Natasha Hill is one of two Democrats challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, hoping to flip the district this cycle. She has been practicing civil law for more than 15 years and is an adjunct law professor at Gonzaga Law School, according to her campaign website. Hill supports investing more in child care and other programs aimed at families. If elected, she said she would vote to raise the minimum wage and increase oversight and accountability of law enforcement. Hill has quite a few more endorsements, from local groups and individuals, than the other Democrat in the race. She has raised roughly $77,000 for her campaign, including a roughly $10,000 loan from herself.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is running in her 10th election for the U.S. House. The Republican continues to fight proposals to remove dams on the Lower Snake River, saying the dams are critical for irrigating farms and keeping utility costs low in Eastern Washington. After the presidential election in 2020, she joined the Republican chorus that decried the elections as rigged. McMorris Rodgers currently serves as the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. So far she has far outraised her opponents, raking in more than $3.5 million. A PAC supporting McMorris Rodgers has brought about $1.5 million more.

Congressional District 6

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 6 includes part of Pierce County and the entirety of Jefferson, Clallam, Kitsap, Mason and Grays Harbor Counties — including Aberdeen, Port Angeles and most of Tacoma.

Derek Kilmer

Incumbent Derek Kilmer, running for his sixth term in the U.S. House, was first elected to the office in 2012. Before that he represented the area in the state Legislature. The Gig Harbor resident is part of the New Democrat coalition, a group of centrist Democrats in Congress. Kilmer supports paid family leave, abortion rights and reforming how campaigns are financed. He’s facing familiar opponents this election, candidates who also challenged him in 2020. His parents, who were teachers, raised him in Port Angeles. Kilmer earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs and a doctorate from the University of Oxford in England. He has raised more than $1.4 million for his campaign. 

Elizabeth Kreiselmaier

Challenging Rep. Derek Kilmer from the right is Elizabeth Kreiselmaier. The “clean up the house” Republican says she will fight to lower drug prices by using the free market and competition. On her campaign site, Kreiselmaier released a handful of draft bills. Two would ​​amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add protections to include vaccination status and political affiliation and belief. After the Uvalde school shooting, Kreiselmaier called for armed police officers or guards to be stationed at schools. Kreiselmaier earned a Ph.D. in special education, management and counseling psychology from the University of Oregon. She has raised $271,000 for her campaign, loaning herself $15,000.

Congressional District 7

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 7 in King County includes Vashon Island, Shoreline, and much of Seattle.

Pramila Jayapal

Running for her fourth election to the U.S. House, Pramila Jayapal easily cruised to victory in her last two elections, winning 80% of the vote, which is probably why no credible candidates have stepped up to challenge her. She served in the state Legislature before running for Congress in 2016. Before entering politics Jayapal worked in global public health and development and founded the immigration advocacy organization OneAmerica. Jayapal has been a vocal supporter of canceling student loan debt, raising the federal minimum wage and providing guaranteed universal health care. She chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus and has raised more than $1.9 million for the race. Listen to Crosscut’s latest interview with Jayapal here.

Congressional District 8

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 8 includes part of Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties and the entirety of Chelan and Kittitas Counties — including Leavenworth, Snoqualmie, Cle Elum and Ellensburg.

Matt Larkin

Matt Larkin is running on a tough-on-crime platform in an effort he calls to “make crime illegal again.” Larkin says that, if elected, he will work to stop far-left policies that have decimated Seattle, pointing to homelessness and drug use. He declined to tell The Seattle Times last year if he believed President Joe Biden’s 2020 win over Donald Trump was legitimate. The lawyer, who received a law degree from Gonzaga University, served for a brief time as a criminal prosecutor in Pierce County. Today he works at his family’s water and sewer pipe manufacturing business. Larkin lost his bid in 2020 for attorney general to Bob Ferguson. He has raised about $630,000 for the congressional race, including a $230,000 personal loan. Read more about the District 8 race on Crosscut.

Kim Schrier

The hotly contested seat in what might be Washington’s only truly swing district has attracted a long list of candidates. Mostly Republicans are challenging the Democratic incumbent centrist Dr. Kim Schrier. She first won the seat in 2018, when she flipped the district blue following former Rep. Dave Reichert’s retirement. Since joining Congress, the Sammamish pediatrician has made health care affordability and access a focus. On her campaign site, Schrier pledged to support abortion rights and work to increase funding for Planned Parenthood. She also wants to expand the Affordable Care Act to include a public option. Schrier has raised more than $4.1 million for the race; a PAC has brought in about $128,000. Read more about the District 8 race on Crosscut.

Congressional District 9

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 9 in King County includes Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Mercer Island and part of Seattle.

Doug Basler

This is Republican Doug Basler's fifth try to unseat Rep. Adam Smith, having lost each time by a wide margin. He’s running on a platform of election integrity and lowering gas prices. He believes government spending, borrowing and printing money are driving the U.S. economy to the brink of disaster. Following the 2020 election, Basler signed on to lawsuits claiming widespread voting manipulation, seeking audits of the election. He attended the University of Portland, is the founder of a digital advertising agency and a member of the Kent and Tacoma chambers of commerce. Basler has raised about $27,000 for the race.

Adam Smith

In the past 2½ decades, Rep. Adam Smith has managed to swat away challengers from both the left and the right. And this year is likely to bring more of the same. He chairs the powerful House Armed Services Committee. The Democrat, who joined both the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the more moderate New Democrat Coalition, supports a single-payer health plan like Medicare for All and universal background checks for gun purchases. Challengers from the left have characterized Smith as pro-war for his votes to increase spending on the military. Before joining the U.S. House, Smith was a member of the Washington state Senate from 1991 to 1996 and worked as Seattle city prosecutor from 1993 to 1995. Smith has over $800,000 in the bank for the race.

Congressional District 10

Washingtonians will elect one candidate from each of 10 districts for the United States House of Representatives. District 10 includes part of Pierce and Thurston Counties — including Olympia, Parkland and Puyallup.

Marilyn Strickland

Incumbent Marilyn Strickland is running for reelection for the first time since being sworn in to the 10th District seat in 2021. Strickland's priorities include expanding paid sick leave and passing federal bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity gun magazines. She also supports shifting to universal health coverage. Strickland is a member of the New Democrat Coalition. She was the first Black person to be elected to represent Washington state in Congress and the first Korean American woman sent to Congress from any state. Before heading to the other Washington, Strickland served as mayor of Tacoma and president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She has raised about $1.1 million for her reelection campaign.

Keith Swank

Rep. Marilyn Strickland's most likely challenger to make it through to the general election this year is from the right. Republican Keith Swank is a Seattle police captain with an expertise in crisis intervention and de-escalation. He’s running a law-and-order campaign, according to Swank’s website. In 2019, the U.S. Army veteran ran in the 8th Congressional District for a spot in Congress, collecting over 17% of the vote in the primary. He says “tough love” is needed to move people experiencing homelessness and addiction and move them off the streets. The self-described Constitutional Conservative supports passing a flat 12% tax across the board. Swank has $29,000 in the bank.

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Methodology

In our ongoing quest to get voters the information they need to mark their ballots, we asked candidates for Congress and the Washington Legislature to answer a short multiple-choice survey on today’s issues. For each topic – from abortion to the economy – we gave them five choices and asked them to mark which choice came closest to their beliefs. 

Sounds simple, but it’s obviously not. We did our best to provide choices that cover most of the political spectrum, but we would have needed a lot more choices to include every unique perspective. Some candidates chose not to participate; others made a choice and then added context with a short description. 

Let us know how you think this idea could be improved by emailing our news editor, Donna Blankinship, or by filling out the form on our full methodology page. We provide this voter guide for our readers and we want to hear from you.