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Seven hopefuls tee up against incumbent Larsen in U.S. District 2 race

Democracy, border security, climate change, abortion rights and health care are top concerns

By Isaac Stone Simonelli Enterprise/Investigations Reporter

It’s a crowded field for the District 2 U.S. Congressional race as incumbent Democrat Rep. Rick Larsen looks to fend off seven challengers for a seat he’s held since 2001. The contenders stretch across the political landscape from one self-proclaimed MAGA Republican to progressives that position themselves far left of Larsen. 

“It’s a tough primary isn’t it? Seven people running for second place, because Rick Larsen has the name recognition,” candidate Dr. Edwin Stickle told Cascadia Daily News.

Traditionally, the district breaks with one Democrat and one Republican moving forward out of the top-two primary, giving conservative challengers an advantage. Several progressive candidates voiced their concerns about vote splitting hurting their chances of making it through to the general election.

The district comprises all of Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties, as well as western Snohomish County, and serves a population of roughly 782,000. 

The demographic breakdown of the district by the U.S. Census puts the population at about 70% white, with more than six out of 10 residents ranging from 18 to 64 years old. About half of the population was born outside of Washington state.

Candidates are courting Washingtonian voters on a number of topics from health care reform and immigration policy, to abortion rights and judicial reform. CDN spoke with each candidate to better understand their platform.

Josh Binda is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Josh Binda)

Josh Binda (Democrat):

Josh Binda is the youngest BIPOC elected official in Washington state history, as well as an engineer and Lynnwood City Council member. He is the son of two refugees who escaped war-torn Liberia before coming to America. He is also a lead organizer in the region for Black Lives Matter. 

When speaking with CDN, Binda pointed toward his accomplishments in Lynnwood from increasing community resources for mental health to leading efforts to add millions of dollars of funding to the city’s parks and recreation department.

His platform is focused on affordable housing, ethical health care, access to better education, mental health resources, protecting women’s rights, climate change and ensuring tax dollars aren’t being used to fund wars but are instead being brought back and used within the district.

“All these directly impact me as the next generation coming up in this world, and I want to be able to be a voice for our generation to push us into the future,” Binda said.

If elected, Binda said he would work toward codifying Roe v. Wade, bolster federal programs that help people avoid being evicted, create affordable housing incentives for new developments and fund mental health resources. 

He also advocated for taking a proactive approach to public safety that focuses on the underlying causes of crime, such as limited access to mental health care, limited access to housing and poverty.

Jason Call is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Jason Call)

Jason Call (Green Party):

Jason Call, who will turn 53 later this July, is a former public school teacher of 18 years and an elected union leader. He explained that he has been an activist for 35 years, involved in antiwar, health care, labor and climate justice movements. He was recently arrested at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, during a pro-Palestine protest.

This is the third time Call has run in the District 2 primary. He has consistently finished in third place, far behind Larsen but only a few percentage points behind the lead conservative candidates. In 2022, he secured 14.6% of the primary votes, losing to Dan Matthews (17%) and Larsen (45.8%). The prior election, he was only about 2,600 votes shy of making it through the primary.

Call’s top priority is stopping the funding of military aid for Israel amid continued attacks on Palestinians, an issue that he said Larsen has failed to address. He said that Israel and the U.S. are both committing war crimes and violating international laws with the handling of the conflict.

Call said his other major priorities are getting corporate money out of politics, establishing universal single-payer health care and addressing global warming in a more impactful, meaningful way.

“There’s no confidence in either of the two parties that are controlled by corporations by Wall Street, by the war machine and by AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee],” Call said.

Cody Hart is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Cody Hart)

Cody Hart (MAGA Republican Party):

Cody Hart, 49, is a small-business owner, licensed civil engineer and U.S. Navy Veteran, having served as an aircraft mechanic from 1995 to 1999. He is the complainant in a Washington state Supreme Court case alleging election law violations in the 2019 Skagit County Special Election.

This is the third time Hart has run in the District 2 primary. While he has yet to make it out of the primary, he has always been the second-most-popular conservative on the ticket. He saw his support nearly double between 2020 (5.7%) and 2022 (10.1%). Neither of the candidates who finished ahead of him in previous elections are running this year.

Hart said that he has had “no faith” that the election results starting in 2020 represent the vote of the people.

Pointing toward high inflation and the national debt, Hart said his priorities include fixing the economy, advocating for government cuts “across the board,” reducing taxes and addressing illegal immigration.

“The current administration and current government has completely disregarded our national security and safety of the citizens of this country,” he said.

However, Hart did say that it was time for the U.S. to “return to a mission of peace” and refuse to enter into unprovoked wars.

Devin Hermanson is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Devin Hermanson)

Devin Hermanson (Democrat):

Devin Hermanson, 58, is a nonprofit consultant, entrepreneur and activist. 

For him, there is one issue on the ballot this year and it’s “preserving our democracy.” He said the lack of urgency and recognition about the severity of the national crisis motivated him to run for office.

Hermanson explained that while he thinks the threat to democracy is very real it also creates an extraordinary opportunity “to finally reorient our country to focus on individuals and people, their communities, instead of corporations and the wealthy.”

Hermanson is also campaigning on a platform of court reform, launching the Green New Deal, establishing universal single-payer health care, codifying Roe v. Wade and increasing taxes on the wealthy.

He is specifically advocating for expanding the U.S. Supreme Court, enacting a code of ethics and impeaching corrupt judges.

The lack of urgency in Congress around advocating for the Green New Deal, designed to address climate change in addition to supporting job creation and economic growth, also is a point of contention for Hermanson.

“We’re killing our planet, and we need to take it seriously as a crisis that it is,” Hermanson said. 

Leif Johnson is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Leif Johnson)

Leif Johnson (Republican):

Leif Johnson, turning 56 in August, is an engineer who has been married for 33 years and has four children and three grandchildren.

He made a run in the 2022 primary for the District 2 seat, securing nearly 5,600 votes, which put him behind four other conservative candidates in the race.

Johnson’s platform includes tackling issues with the economy, border security, parent’s rights, state rights, federal taxes and term limits. He explained that the U.S. had a responsibility to tackle inflation, cut spending and put an end to “crony capitalism,” such as government subsidies.
“Any subsidies given by the government, they are a problem,” Johnson said. “They just cost money and it doesn’t make us resourceful.”

One specific issue within District 2 that Johnson wants to address is the privatization of military housing, which he said is both expensive and extremely limited. He explained that the only way the federal government should be allowed to address affordable housing issues in the district is to take back the responsibility of providing housing for military personnel.

Johnson said that he signed a term limits pledge, a promise to limit his time in Congress to three terms if elected.

Congressman Rick Larsen is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Rick Larsen)

Rick Larsen (Democrat):

Incumbent candidate Rick Larsen, 59, has served District 2 since 2001. He serves as the lead Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is also a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, co-chair of the U.S.-China Working Group and a member of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force.

Larsen, who tends to dominate in the primary, regularly secures more than 60% of votes in the general election. In the last three primaries, he secured more than 40% of votes, more than double that of the closest challenger.

In June, Larsen canceled the final event in his campaign kick-off series due to a series of disruptive, pro-Palestine protests. Nonetheless, he deemed the events a success.

While recognizing that conflict in Palestine is important, Larsen told CDN that the most salient issues within the district are access to health care, rights to reproductive health, job creation and building the next generation of infrastructure.

During his campaign, Larsen touted a 4% (or lower) unemployment rate, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and his four-prong approach to tackling the opioid crisis that is devastating communities.

He said that both democracy — access to voting — and women’s rights are on the ballot this year. If the Democrats are able to secure a majority in Congress, they will pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify Roe v. Wade, Larsen said.

“Our economy should work for everyone, but right now, too many hard-working people are struggling to make ends meet,” Larsen writes on his website. “My top priority is to bring economic investments to the 2nd District that create good-paying jobs that support families.”

Daniel Miller is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Miller)

Daniel Miller (Republican):

Daniel Miller is a small business owner, professional actor and member of the American Legion.

He has run in various state-level elections over the last decade. He made it through the primary to appear in the 2019 special general election for Washington state Senate District 40, where he lost to Democrat Liz Lovelett in a 30-70 landslide. This year, he also ran for governor, but will not appear on the primary ballot for that race.

He told CDN that his top priority was addressing issues with the economy, and battling inflation and the rising costs of housing. He said that he wants to eliminate taxes on tips for people within the service industry, and work toward driving down gasoline prices.

He also said that if elected he would address illegal immigration, support the agriculture industry and ensure the government keeps its promise with the Cleaning Up Hanford program. The program is working to remediate the environmental damage of highly toxic plutonium in rural Benton County, which is not part of District 2.

“A lot of people are finding it hard, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, to make ends meet,” Miller said. “So the economy is something we need to really tackle.”

Edwin Stickle is a candidate in the 2024 race for U.S. District 2. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Stickle)

Edwin Stickle (Democrat):

Dr. Edwin Stickle, 59, is a practicing physician who has worked in the Skagit County community for 27 years as a family medicine doctor, nursing home doctor, hospital doctor and hospice doctor. He also worked in clinics and nursing homes in Whatcom, Island and Snohomish counties and was the chief of the medical staff at Skagit Valley Hospital in 2007-2009 and 2019-2022.

“I have delivered hundreds of babies and am still working nights and weekends safely delivering new babies,” Dr. Stickle wrote on his website. “I teach medical students and family medicine residents every week.”

Dr. Stickle is running primarily on a platform of Medicare and health care reform, noting that at least five primary issues need to change with Medicare. One such change he said would be lowering the age for when Medicare kicks in from 65 to 62 to better match when people typically retire.

He also believes strongly that health care is between the clinician and their patient. This includes a woman’s decision about whether or not to have an abortion. Though he said he’d personally never be willing to perform an abortion, he believes even more strongly that “it’s no one’s business what you do with your own health care.”

The candidate also said that he would seek student loan reform, funding for housing programs and investment in infrastructure.

Isaac Stone Simonelli is CDN’s enterprise/investigations reporter; reach him at; 360-922-3090 ext. 127.

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