The Democratic effort to flip Washington’s 3rd Congressional District blue officially took flight today with the news that Democratic challenger Carolyn Long has decided to seek a rematch with Republican incumbent Jaime Herrera-Beutler.
Long, a professor of political science and constitutional law at WSU Vancouver, turned heads around the country last cycle when she built a fiercely spirited, credible campaign against Herrera-Beutler in the span of just a few months.
Long, a dark horse candidate, went from being largely unknown in Washington politics to a grassroots sensation in a very short amount of time.
In the Top Two election, Long came in second place with 35.26% of the vote, behind Herrera-Beutler, who managed only a meager 42.07%.
In the general election, Long secured 47.33% of the vote, keeping Herrera-Beutler in the low fifties for the first time since 2010, and outperforming even the vaunted Denny Heck, who unsuccessfully sought to keep the 3rd in Democratic hands in 2010 after Brian Baird decided to retire.
(Heck ran again for the United States House in 2012 in the newly-drawn 10th Congressional District, and has represented it ever since.)
Long is now hoping to finish what she started last cycle. By starting now, she’ll have six months of lead time beyond what she had last year and can make use of the networks she developed last year during her first run for Congress.
Long’s 2020 campaign will focus on healthcare, infrastructure, and education, emphasizing the same priorities she previously campaigned on in 2018.
Long does not support eliminating private health insurance with a Medicare For All single payer system, but does support expanding the Patient Protection Act with a public option, as many Democratic candidates for President do.
Long kicked off her campaign with appearances in Longview, Centralia, and Vancouver. She deliberately made her first stop in Lewis County, a traditionally Republican stronghold that rarely votes for Democrats or progressive causes.
An unapologetic proponent of retail politics, Long is serious about getting out and around the 3rd Congressional District, which spans Southwest Washington.
“There is an impression that it is a red district, but I think it is a competitive district,” Long told The Columbian, the district’s principal newspaper.
The Washington State Democratic Party agrees, and has made capturing WA-03 a top electoral priority for 2020. Republicans, for their part, have named Herrera-Beutler as one of their most vulnerable incumbents — an acknowledgment that Democrats have a real chance of flipping the 3rd in 2020.
“The experience last time showed that people really were interested in the campaign, that our messages reflected those of the people of southwest Washington,” Long told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“And it shows us we need to keep working.”
In 2018, Long won in Clark County but lost Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston, Skamania, Wahkiakum, and Klickitat to Herrera-Beutler.
Cowlitz, which is home to Longview and Kelso, is the second biggest county in the district. Long’s loss there was by a double-digit margin, which is partly why she came up short in the district as a whole. To win next time around, Long must focus on making Cowlitz a true battleground, flipping Pacific to her side, running up her margin of victory in Clark, and minimizing her losses elsewhere.
She will likely have more help for this second attempt. With WA-08 now in the Democratic column after Kim Schrier’s historic victory last year in the midterms, WA-03 will finally get the party’s undivided attention. The table is now set for a major electoral showdown in Southwest Washington in 2020.