OLYMPIA, Wash. — Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of two Republican members of Washington state’s congressional delegation who voted to impeach Donald Trump, has conceded her reelection bid after being overtaken in late vote tallies by a GOP challenger endorsed by the former president.
Trump targeted the incumbent six times and endorsed Joe Kent in the contest for the third Congressional District. It is located in Southwest Washington and borders Portland, Oregon.
Kent led Herrera Beutler by approximately 4,700 votes. However, her lead dwindled throughout the last week as updated returns showed Kent leading and moving into the No. Tuesday night’s No. 2 slot.
Once Clark County, the district’s largest, and Thurston Counties updated their tallies Tuesday, Kent was leading Herrera Beutler by 928 votes. According to the Associated Press, it is too soon to determine who will be the second candidate in the primary. It estimates that approximately 10,000 votes have yet to count.
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Herrera Beutler conceded in an email shortly after the latest update, saying that “since I was first elected to this seat I have done my very best to serve my home region and our country.”
“Though my campaign came up short this time, I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together for the place where I was raised and still call home,” she wrote, saying that “I’m proud that I always told the truth, stuck to my principles, and did what I knew to be best for our country.
Under Washington’s primary system, the top two vote getters in each race Aug. 2 advance to the November election, regardless of party. Washington is a vote by mail state, and voters don’t have to declare a party affiliation.
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez a Democratic had already been elected to the November ballot, as she was the highest vote-getter following the Aug. 2, primary with 31%.
According to the secretary of state’s office, the last incumbent member of Congress to lose in a primary in Washington state was Rep. John Miller, who lost to Ralph Horr in 1930.
Washington is a voting-by-mail State. Because ballots do not need to arrive by Election Day but must be submitted, results can often take several days.
Greg Kimsey Clark County Auditor stated Tuesday that it took his office longer to process the ballots than usual due to a larger number of voters who kept on their ballots for longer times than previous elections. Kimsey reported that there were 92.300 votes received between Monday and Wednesday in 2018, compared with 49,000 for the same period of 2018.
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Herrera Beutler has said she has no regrets about her impeachment vote following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — and has stood by her comments made both on the floor and on Twitter afterward — including her revelation that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her he spoke with Trump as rioters were storming the Capitol, and that according to McCarthy the president said: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Kent is a regular on conservative cable shows who echoes the former president’s grievances about the 2020 election outcome, and on Steve Bannon’s podcast Monday, Kent criticized the state primary as “not a transparent process” and said that he had to remedy a signature issue with his own ballot that day.
Kimsey, the county’s elections official, noted that signature verification is a crucial part of the process that ensures the security and integrity of the state’s vote-by-mail system.
In a statement issued Monday night after Kent pulled ahead, Gluesenkamp Perez pointed to Kent’s comments about the state’s elections, and said that the 3rd Congressional District race “is going to be a national bellwether for the direction of the country, and for the future of our democracy.”
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment, four opted not to run for reelection. Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, who was endorsed by Trump in a primary election last week, and South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice lost in June to a Trump-endorsed candidate. Rep. David Valadao of California — which has an open primary like Washington — survived a primary challenge. Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming fears losing her primary on Aug. 16, against Trump-backed opponents.
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Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who defeated a Trump-endorsed opponent in the Washington state primary, advanced to the general elections and will be on the November ballot alongside Democratic opponent Doug White.
Cornell Clayton of Washington State University’s Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy noted that his victory with only 25% of the vote was due to the fact that all three anti-Newhouse Republican nominees had double-digit percentages.
But in the 3rd, where the only serious Republican challengers were Kent and Heidi St. John, “It was close but there wasn’t enough to fracture the anti-incumbent vote on the Republican side.”
While the Kent campaign did no immediate respond to my request, Ozzie Gonzalez, campaign manager for Ozzie Gonzalez stated in an email that Kent would wait until the winner is certified. Counties will have to complete their count by August 16, and canvassing boards can certify the results by August 19. The secretary-of-state must then certify the results by Aug. 19.
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