Norm Dicks is the senior Northwest member of Congress, in either chamber. Through, that is, the end of this year: He said this morning, in something of a surprise, that he will retire after that.
So, fairly late in the cycle, the newly-redistricted Washington 6th district seat comes open.
Dicks was trained in the Warren Magnuson shop, and very much comes from a time of greater civilty in Congress, and also out of the bringing-home-the-bacon era. The area around Tacoma and Kitsap County may not see so much bacon, much of it in the form of military developments, again for a long stretch.
A description in this morning's Roll Call e-mail report: "Dicks, 71, has represented the Olympic Peninsula of Washington since 1977. He is one of the most powerful and influential military hawks in his party and has had the top Democratic seat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee since Jack Murtha died. Like so many others who are retiring this year, he comes from an era when collegiality and bipartisanship were viewed as congressional virtues — not dangerous or disingenuous. In a statement, Dicks summed up his 18-term career by declaring that he was proud of his ability to bridge “the ideological and party lines that tend to separate us, and I have always believed that we can achieve greater results if we leave politics aside when the election season and the floor debates are over.”"
Dicks would have had an easy re-election; he has not had a close contest in a very long time. The new 6th House district generally covers the Olympic peninsula and Kitsap County, plus Gig Harbor and a slice of central Tacoma. Under most conditions, this will be a Democratic district. But there are Republican bases here, and substantial competitive areas - Kitsap is politically marginal, and much of what is Democratic is on the conservative side of Democratic - quite some distance from Seattle Democratic. (In that, Dicks was a realistic mirror of the district.)
Will be highly interesting to see who enters the races, as serious candidates are going to have to do quickly.