The following editorial originally appeared in The Seattle Times:
If former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert has views about former President Donald Trump’s legal predicaments, now would be a good time to share them.
Reichert, a Republican, instantly shook up the Washington governor’s race when he threw his hat into the ring in July. With his long civic résumé — the onetime King County Sheriff gained national renown as the lawman who tracked down the Green River Killer — Reichert is just the kind of independent-minded politician his party needs to end 38 years of Democrats in the Governor’s Mansion.
But even if Reichert wins every Republican vote, he still will likely lose. He must pick up independents and disaffected Democrats to beat the odds in this very blue state.
Which is why Reichert should not be coy about his thoughts regarding the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Unless something derails what looks to be inevitable, Trump will lead his party, notwithstanding the fact that he faces four separate criminal investigations, at both the state and federal levels.
In an interview with The Seattle Times after announcing his campaign, Reichert said concerns about public safety could help Republicans win.
“Look, we’re tired of being victims of crime. We’re tired of our businesses being looted. We’re tired of our windows being broken. We’re tired of our streets being used as a public toilet. We’re tired of our streets being used as a place where you can buy, use and sell drugs. … People would agree we’re circling the drain,” he said.
Which brings us to respecting law and order.
If Reichert is true to his stated beliefs and wants to offer a legitimate alternative to Democrats, he must say what he thinks about the charges facing Trump. That includes allegations of trying to overturn the 2020 elections, hiding classified documents and paying hush money to a porn star.
It is very hard to be staunchly against low-level street crime but silent on charges that relate to the foundations of our democracy. And changing the topic to Biden’s son won’t cut it. Federal prosecutors are seeking an indictment of Hunter Biden, not his father.
Washington has had a couple of brave Republican leaders who parted ways with the party and Trump. U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside and Jaime Herrera Beutler were two of 10 GOP representatives who voted for impeachment in 2021. The former still serves, the latter lost her seat in 2022.
With Trump’s trial dates scheduled during the run-up to the 2024 election, Reichert will not be able to avoid this conversation forever. He should take this opportunity to show leadership as the GOP field clears to support his candidacy.
If Reichert puts Washington on the national political map as the place where Trump finally faces accountability from his own party, that will surely make for an interesting governor’s race next year.