NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2020

Carolyn Long’s rematch with Jaime Herrera-Beutler could be Washington’s hottest race

An elec­tion that astute observers have their eye on in Wash­ing­ton this year is the con­test for the 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict in the state’s south­west com­mu­ni­ties. Washington’s 3rd encom­pass­es Lewis, Wahki­akum, Pacif­ic, Clark, Ska­ma­nia, Cowlitz and Klick­i­tat coun­ties along with a por­tion of Thurston County.

Cowlitz Coun­ty, home to Kel­so and Longview, is a key bat­tle­ground with­in the dis­trict, where com­pa­nies like Wey­er­haeuser play a large role in the economy.

Chron­ic eco­nom­ic inse­cu­ri­ty in the area has altered the region’s elec­toral dynam­ics. While south­west Wash­ing­ton has long been home to a blue col­lar union­ized work­force, that work­force has shrunk in recent years.

The 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict has elect­ed both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans to the Unit­ed States House in the past twen­ty years. Demo­c­rat Bri­an Baird rep­re­sent­ed the dis­trict before incum­bent Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, and he was pre­ced­ed by Repub­li­can Lin­da Smith, who gave up her seat to run against Pat­ty Murray.

Since 2011, the 3rd has been rep­re­sent­ed by Repub­li­can Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler, as men­tioned. In 2016, Her­rera Beut­ler won with 61.8% of the vote against her gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent, for­mer state leg­is­la­tor Jim Moeller.

But in 2018, Her­rera Beut­ler won with a much small­er major­i­ty (52.7%) against Car­olyn Long, a tenured pro­fes­sor in the School of Pol­i­tics, Phi­los­o­phy and Pub­lic Affairs at Wash­ing­ton State University-Vancouver.

Carolyn Long at a summer house party

Con­gres­sion­al hope­ful Car­olyn Long lis­tens to a ques­tion from a sup­port­er at a sum­mer house par­ty (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Long’s cam­paign turned heads with a sur­pris­ing­ly strong show­ing in the August 2018 Top Two elec­tion, caus­ing many observers to start watch­ing the 3rd Dis­trict more close­ly. Although Long did not ulti­mate­ly pre­vail over Her­rera-Beut­ler in 2018, she is now run­ning for Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive again… and this time, she has the ben­e­fit of hav­ing start­ed much earlier.

Her­rera-Beut­ler’s oth­er oppo­nents include Devin Gray, Davy Ray, and Mar­tin Hash.

They are like­ly to be elim­i­nat­ed in the August Top Two elec­tion, leav­ing only Her­rera-Beut­ler and Long in the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion runoff.

SwingLeft, a group that works to elect more and bet­ter Democ­rats, char­ac­ter­izes the 3rd as winnable and argues Long is well posi­tioned to be vic­to­ri­ous in 2020.

The group notes (PDF):

WA-03 is usu­al­ly compet­i­tive, with the areas near Port­land lean­ing more Demo­c­ra­t­ic than rur­al areas. Trump won the dis­trict by 7 points (49.9% to Clin­ton’s 42.5%). In 2000, Bush won with 48% and was re-elec­t­ed with 50%. Oba­ma swung the dis­trict in 2008 with 52% of the vote. Redis­trict­ing extend­ed the dis­trict fur­ther to the east, result­ing in a high­er con­cen­tra­tion of Repub­li­can vot­ers. Rom­ney won with 49.6% in 2012.

Car­olyn Long has a strong back­ground in edu­ca­tion. She has been a pro­fes­sor at Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty for twen­­ty-four years, and has worked at the Uni­ver­si­ty in var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tive and lead­er­ship roles since 1995. Long grew up in a rur­al com­mu­ni­ty on the Wash­ing­ton state coast and was a mem­ber of the UFCW 555 while a stu­dent, which allowed her to fund her under­grad­u­ate education.

Long has amassed an impres­sive war chest for a challenger.

As Ore­gon Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing report­ed back in April:

Long raised $538,375 over the past three months, com­pared with Her­rera Beutler’s $435,615. Dat­ing back to Octo­ber, Long has raised a total of $1.6 mil­lion to Her­rera Beutler’s $1.3 million.

How­ev­er, Her­rera Beut­ler holds an advan­tage in over­all funds. The incum­bent had a six-month head start in fundrais­ing, help­ing her raise close to $2 mil­lion in her cam­paign since last year. She still has more cash-on-hand, too: $1.3 mil­lion to Long’s $1.1 million.

Long has empha­sized her sup­port for vote at home, a pub­lic health­care option, and get­ting big mon­ey out of pol­i­tics as major themes of her 2020 campaign.

She has also spo­ken out in sup­port of police reform and Black Lives Mat­ter, while Her­rera-Beut­ler has been con­spic­u­ous­ly silent even as oth­er Repub­li­can incum­bents fac­ing dif­fi­cult reelec­tions weigh in.

Run­ning dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year, and with a well fund­ed and high­ly regard­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nent, Her­rera Buetler is in the fight of her polit­i­cal life. Though the con­test in the 3rd does­n’t receive a lot of atten­tion in the Seat­tle media mar­ket, it could eas­i­ly be Wash­ing­ton’s hottest race this cycle.

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One Comment

  1. Two issues not men­tioned in this sum­ma­ry of the 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict race may be piv­otal in deter­min­ing the out­come: COVID-19 and the reces­sion. Novem­ber will see con­tin­u­ing record unem­ploy­ment and ris­ing hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in our region. Employ­ment will not recov­er while the virus remains uncon­tained and the virus will not be con­trolled with­out the polit­i­cal will to do so. With­out a vac­cine, the ques­tion will be which par­ty is best able to suc­cess­ful­ly con­trol the virus and resume a more nor­mal eco­nom­ic turn around. The answer will be evi­dent even in the 3rd Dis­trict that the par­ty of Trump and Her­rera-Beut­ler has failed and that changes need to be made.

    # by George Curtin :: June 11th, 2020 at 3:36 PM
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