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Dino Rossi, state senator for the 45th District and a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, is running for Congress.

Rossi, 57, announced his bid Thursday night at the Washington State Republican Party's annual dinner in Bellevue for the Eighth District, left open after Dave Reichert announced he would retire and not seek reelection earlier this month.

"I can now answer the question that several thousand people have asked me either in person or through social media—I'm in!" Rossi wrote on Facebook Thursday night. "I've also looked at the realities of this Congressional district in 2018. I've run in this district and won it handily, but I'm not kidding myself; it's going to be a tough race." 

The seat is one Democrats were hoping would swing blue next year in the party's efforts to take control of the House. Several Democratic contenders announced their bids for the seat early; and the departure of Reichert left political pundits thinking Democrats could stand a good chance to flip the seat. Historically, the president's party tends to be less popular for open seats during midterm elections, according to analysis from nonpartisan newsletter Sabato's Crystal Ball. Rossi, however, has good name recognition and kept a high profile since his last run for governor in 2008. 

"Democrats should prepare for an uphill battle if they plan to challenge one of Washington's beloved Republicans in a historically conservative district," the Washington State Republican Party said in a press release Thursday.

Rossi narrowly lost his bid for governor in 2004 against Christine Gregoire and ran against her again in 2008. He was also a candidate to be U.S. senator against Patty Murray in 2010. He filled a vacancy in the state Senate in 2012 and got appointed to his current 45th District seat after the sudden death of GOP budget writer Andy Hill last year. 

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