U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler with baby Isana
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler tweeted this image of her enroute to vote with baby Isaac

Sharp eyed read­ers of NPI’s Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate may have noticed that Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler (R‑WA-03) has missed a lot of floor votes late­ly. Until this week, Her­rera-Beut­ler had­n’t cast any votes on the floor of the Unit­ed States House since before the Memo­r­i­al Day recess.

That’s because she has been on mater­ni­ty leave, her office says.

“Jaime’s absence is due to her giv­ing birth a few weeks ago,” her com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Ange­line Riester­er explains. “She is back now vot­ing and resum­ing her con­gres­sion­al duties with her new­born daugh­ter in tow.”

Today, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Her­rera-Beut­ler post­ed a pho­to of her walk­ing to the House floor to vote with her new­born daugh­ter Isana in a car­ry­ing harness.

“Cross­ing my fin­gers Isana can grab a nap,” Her­rera-Beut­ler tweeted.

U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler with baby Isana
U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler tweet­ed this image of her enroute to vote with baby Isana

Hope­ful­ly she got her wish. Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive and all of her fam­i­ly on the joy­ous occa­sion of her daugh­ter’s birth.

While Her­rera-Beut­ler was on mater­ni­ty leave, the House was busy. It debat­ed and passed a $982.8 bil­lion appro­pri­a­tions bill, a res­o­lu­tion autho­riz­ing its com­mit­tees to ask fed­er­al courts to enforce com­mit­tee sub­poe­nas, and land­mark leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect the rights of Dream­ers and new Amer­i­cans.

Top Repub­li­can oper­a­tives, mean­while, decid­ed that Her­rera-Beut­ler is vul­ner­a­ble in 2020 and revealed plans to prop up her forth­com­ing reelec­tion campaign.

“Repub­li­cans plan to pour extra mon­ey and resources into ten con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts where Repub­li­can incum­bents are vul­ner­a­ble amid demo­graph­ic changes that could swing the elec­tions toward Democ­rats,” McClatchy’s Rick Chil­dress and David Light­man report­ed ear­li­er this month.

“The spe­cial Repub­li­can effort, called the ‘Patri­ot Pro­gram,’ asks par­ty donors to direct funds to incum­bent cam­paigns. The [incum­bents] also get addi­tion­al staff and sup­port for more exten­sive adver­tis­ing cam­paigns from the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, the GOP’s House cam­paign arm.”

The com­plete list of ten is:

  1. Will Hurd, Texas (TX-23)
  2. John Katko, New York (NY-24)
  3. Bri­an Fitz­patrick, Penn­syl­va­nia (PA-01)
  4. Pete Olson, Texas (TX-22)
  5. John Carter, Texas (TX-31)
  6. Michael McCaul, Texas (TX-10)
  7. Don Bacon, Nebras­ka (NE-02)
  8. Lee Zeldin, New York (NY-01)
  9. Fred Upton, Michi­gan (MI-)
  10. Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler (WA-03)

It is note­wor­thy that almost half of these endan­gered incum­bents are from Texas. An addi­tion­al two are from New York, which one each from Michi­gan and Nebras­ka. And then there is Her­rera-Beut­ler, the last Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tive rep­re­sent­ing a dis­trict west of the Cas­cade moun­tain range.

Last year, the Wash­ing­to­ni­ans elect­ed U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er to rep­re­sent the 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, once again turn­ing back a bid by Dino Rossi for high­er office. Schri­er’s win helped Democ­rats secure their first major­i­ty in the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives since 2009.

Pri­or to Schri­er’s vic­to­ry, the 8th had always been rep­re­sent­ed by Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Jen­nifer Dunn and Dave Reichert. The 3rd is a dif­fer­ent sto­ry; it has most­ly sent Democ­rats to Con­gress since the mid­dle of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, includ­ing Julia But­ler Hansen, Don Bunker, and Jolene Unsoeld.

In 1994, Repub­li­cans flipped the 3rd with Lin­da Smith, but Smith did not stay in Con­gress long. She opt­ed to chal­lenge Pat­ty Mur­ray for the Unit­ed States Sen­ate in 1998 and was hand­i­ly defeat­ed. Democ­rats took advan­tage of Smith’s Sen­ate run to recap­ture the dis­trict. It was then rep­re­sent­ed by Bri­an Baird until his retire­ment in the 2010 cycle, when Her­rera-Beut­ler defeat­ed Den­ny Heck.

The next year, the dis­tric­t’s bound­aries changed when Wash­ing­ton gained a new con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, the 10th, which is wide­ly con­sid­ered by polit­i­cal observers to have been drawn for Heck. (Heck has rep­re­sent­ed the dis­trict since 2012.)

It was not until last year that Democ­rats made chal­leng­ing Her­rera-Beut­ler a major pri­or­i­ty, uni­fy­ing behind chal­lenger Car­olyn Long, who earned a respectable 47.33% of the vote despite being a first time can­di­date with­out name recognition.

The par­ty has sig­naled that cap­tur­ing WA-03 will again be a top pri­or­i­ty in 2020; it is deploy­ing field staff to orga­nize in the dis­trict and has empha­sized the impor­tance of South­west Wash­ing­ton in fundrais­ing emails.

“I spent the gen­er­al elec­tion last year on the ground in WA-03 with so many ded­i­cat­ed vol­un­teers who worked so hard to flip the 3rd in 2018 for Car­olyn Long, and I know that so many of you were heart­bro­ken when we came up just short of vic­to­ry,” new com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Will Casey wrote in a May 28th message.

“But Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler will be run­ning scared this year because the focus of the entire state is now trained on South­west Wash­ing­ton,” Casey’s mes­sage adds. “That’s why I’ve joined the state par­ty to mar­shal our efforts against Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Her­rera Beut­ler and her down­bal­lot Repub­li­can allies.”

In last year’s Top Two elec­tion, which pit­ted Long and sev­er­al oth­er Democ­rats against Her­rera-Beut­ler, Her­rera-Beut­ler secured the first place spot, but gar­nered less than 43% of the vote over­all, which amazed many polit­i­cal observers. (Usu­al­ly, mul­ti-term incum­bents don’t per­form so poorly.)

A lack of vis­i­bil­i­ty might be part of her prob­lem: Her­rera-Beut­ler has not been in the habit of hold­ing town halls and con­stituent out­reach events. While it’s under­stand­able that she has a fam­i­ly to take care of, her con­stituents in South­west Wash­ing­ton do need and deserve effec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Con­gress. They’ll like­ly have a sec­ond oppor­tu­ni­ty to pick between her and Car­olyn Long next year should Long seek a rematch, which she is active­ly considering.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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