Carolyn Long, candidate for Congress
Carolyn Long, candidate for Congress

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.

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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