A chat with Karen Porterfield, who is running for US Congress in the 8th CD

At the 41st Legislative District Caucus meeting today, I spoke with Karen Porterfield, who is running for US Congress in the newly redistricted 8th Congressional District.  The new 8th CD extends from the eastern Seattle suburbs to Wenatchee in central Washington.  (See the Washington State Redistricting Commissions maps.)

Here is her campaign website: http://www.karenporterfield4congress.com/ (though it’s down for scheduled maintenance as I write this).

Karen Porterfield

Porterfield is Director of Development at Seattle University.

I asked Porterfield whether the new district is safe for Republican incumbent Reichert, given that it has moved to the east.  She said that according to polling that she had done, 41% of people in the new district self-identify as Democrats, while 39% self-identify as Republicans.  So it’s pretty evenly split.   More than 50% of people support both the NRA and the Sierra Club.

I asked how she would respond to Republican claims that she lacks political experience (she hasn’t held elected office). She said that she’s had plenty of political experience on the policy side.  She listed her work in various agencies and nonprofits. See below.  Also, she said, voters often prefer outsiders who are untainted by horsetrading in D.C.

I love the motto on her campaign handout: “My special interest is you!”

I asked her whether it might be appropriate for Dennis Kucinich to run in the 8th. She said that he’d be better in the 1st CD, where the machinists union would support him, or in the 10th CD near Olympia, where the government workers would support him. But she thought it might even be better for Kucinich to work for a nonprofit, or to teach at a university for a couple of years.

According to her LinkedIn profile

She is a strategic planner, change manager, leadership and management consultant and higher education faculty member. She has also worked as a project manager, program manager, affordable housing developer and has managed large-fund development teams. She works to connect her students, individuals and communities with opportunities to create successful and vibrant communities.

She brings experience that supports the development of leadership and management skills in organizations and individuals, and strategic planning and change management processes for organizations. Some of the groups she has worked with include: The National Grant Makers Association, The University of Saskatchewan, Canada, The Da Nang Institute of Technology, Vietnam, The Northwest Division of the Salvation Army, The Everett Library System, The Waste Water Engineers of Pierce County, The Bellevue Arts Museum, Puget Sound Council of Campfire USA, The Foundation for Early Learning, and iLeap.

Porterfield is an international lecturer and has presented at numerous national conferences including the National Salvation Army Social Services Conference, the Western Unites States HUD Program Conference, The National Lutheran Social Services Conference, and International Fund Raisers Conferences. She graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Political Science and from Seattle University with a Masters of Public Administration. She also holds an Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE) credential from the International Association of Fund Raising Professionals.

Two women (Darcy Burner — in 2006 and again in 2008, and Suzan Del Bene in 2010) tried but failed to defeat Reichert.  I wish Porterfield the best of luck but wonder whether a candidate with experience in elected office and better name recognition might have a better shot at defeating the incumbent.

Here’s some of what’s written on the back of her glossy campaign handout:

Karen has worked to improve people’s lives by developing community projects and programs. She has worked tirelessly with numerous non-profit organizations to build food banks, day care centers, senior housing and other vital services. She currently teaches Public Administration at Seattle University.


Karent Porterfield wants to bring equity to our tax system. She wants to balance the budget through responsible spending cuts and by asking every American to pay their fair share — including billionaires and millionaires.  She believes that we must shift tax subsidies from highly profitable oil companies to companies developing sustainable sources of energy.


Karen supports the need for health care reform so every family has access to a doctor without facing bankruptcy. She will fight any attempt to cut Medicare or undermine Social Security.


Karen believes that America is based on the principle of a government “Of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It is time for the people to take back control of their government and for special interests to take a back seat. For this reason, Karen is limiting contributions to her campaign to $500 per election and she has pledged to run a campaign that everyone can be proud of.

See also Brian Gunn’s comments on Porterfield: Karen Porterfield to Challenge Dave Reichert in WA-08.

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