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Democratic fundraising trims Rossi lead in Washington's 8th

In this March 26, 2018 photo, Dino Rossi, a former state senator now running for Washington state's 8th District, poses for a portrait in Issaquah, Wash. Eight unknown Democrats are fighting for a spot to challenge the high-profile Republican Rossi in the race to succeed retiring incumbent, Rep. Dave Reichert, to represent a district that includes the eastern suburbs of Seattle and stretches into the rural Cascade Mountain region. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) - Democrats narrowed the fundraising gap with Republican Dino Rossi, who maintains a substantial lead in a crucial U.S. House race in Washington's 8th District.

Rossi raised about $732,000 in the quarter that ended March 31, a 1 percent retreat from the previous three months, according to Federal Election Commission data. That takes the total to $2.1 million for Rossi, who previously lost two close governor races and another for Senate. He is running without opposition from his party.

Dr. Kim Schrier led the Democratic field with about $484,000 raised last quarter, according to a statement. That's a 51 percent increase from the previous period, taking her total to $1.1 million. Lawyer Jason Rittereiser, saw his quarterly contributions climb 48 percent to about $222,000. That brings his total to $594,000. Neither Democrat has experience running for public office. Dr. Shannon Hader secured about $143,000 in the quarter for a total of $300,000 in contributions. The Democrat's campaign also received an additional $300,000 from a loan from Hader, giving her a total of about $600,000.

The fundraising reports may signal the beginning of consolidation among a group of eight Democratic challengers to Rossi. The House seat, which has been firmly held by Republicans since its inception in 1980, turned more competitive after Rep. Dave Reichert announced his retirement last year. Reichert is one of about 40 Republican House members who have announced their retirement or move to run for another public office ahead of this year's midterm elections.

Analysts including the Cook Political Report, classify the 8th District contest as a toss-up.

"Think of the 8th in the context of a national chess board where the Republicans are playing defense," said Todd Donovan, who teaches political science at Western Washington University. But "the fact that Rossi doesn't have to spend much before the primary makes his lead that much more commanding. The Democrats, on the other hand, can't afford to not spend everything if not most of what they raised before the primary, just to make sure they get through."

Washington holds its primaries in August, where the top two finishers regardless of political affiliation go on to compete in the general election in November.

The 8th District is made up of some of Seattle's wealthiest suburbs to the east, parts of working-class districts to its south and farming counties across the Cascade Mountains. Last month, a super PAC backed by the Republican House leadership opened an office there to support Rossi, one of more than two dozen locations across the country where Democrats are posing serious challenges.

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