Jaime Herrera Beutler versus Carolyn Long
Carolyn Long (left) is challenging Jaime Herrera Beutler (right) for the second cycle in a row (Photos are from their respective campaigns)

The read­ing of tea leaves in Washington’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, encom­pass­ing South­west Wash­ing­ton, is get­ting repetitive.

The 2018 midterm cam­paign cycle start­ed off for Repub­li­can Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler with a rat­ing of “safe Republican.”

As Demo­c­rat Car­olyn Long showed life, the 3rd became “like­ly Repub­li­can.” Then, the rat­ing changed to “leans Repub­li­can,” and the for­mer long­shot Long was show­ered in late arriv­ing sup­port from Bloomberg and envi­ron­men­tal groups.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

With a remarch under­way, the Cook Polit­i­cal Report just switched the rat­ing from “like­ly Repub­li­can” back to “leans Repub­li­can.” The bucks are flow­ing in. Her­rera Beut­ler took in more than $764,000 from March to June, while Long raised $628,000 in the past three months. As report­ed in The Columbian, the incum­bent had almost $1.85 mil­lion in cash on hand and the chal­lenger $1.58 million.

The Ever­green State once again has a House chal­lenge on its hands.

The 3rd is the lone West Coast dis­trict (out­side Alas­ka) bor­der­ing the Pacif­ic Ocean that is still rep­re­sent­ed by a Republican.

Her­rera Buetler hung onto it by a slim mar­gin in 2018.

Ex-Sec­re­tary of State Ralph Munro once divid­ed Wash­ing­ton into two polit­i­cal land­scapes. The “Space Nee­dle Wash­ing­ton,” every­thing vis­i­ble from the Seat­tle land­mark, votes Demo­c­ra­t­ic. The “Old Snowy Wash­ing­ton,” after a land­mark Goat Rocks Wilder­ness peak, leans Repub­li­can. The view from its flat sum­mit stretch­es out across both Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton and South­west Washington.

The 3rd Dis­trict has become part of Old Snowy Wash­ing­ton in recent years. It flipped Repub­li­can in 2010. Trump car­ried the dis­trict in 2016, even win­ning in the two Wash­ing­ton coun­ties – Pacif­ic and Grays Har­bor – car­ried by lone­some George McGov­ern in 1972. Democ­rats lost a raft of local offices there in 2016.

A fast-talk­ing polit­i­cal sci­ence prof from Wash­ing­ton State Uni­ver­si­ty — Van­cou­ver, Long sought to recon­nect using a series of town meet­ings in 2018.

She car­ried (bare­ly) pop­u­lous Clark Coun­ty, but lost every­place else.

The Democ­rats’ recon­nect­ing chal­lenge is root­ed in past neglect.

Take the annu­al Pacif­ic Coun­ty Democ­rats’ Crab Feed, at nine­ty-plus years (though can­celed this year) the state’s old­est con­tin­u­ous polit­i­cal event.

It’s lots of fun. Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell passed up the Grid­iron Din­ner in D.C. one year to spoon out pota­to sal­ad on the food line.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, shirt­sleeves rolled up, han­dled the crab nearby.

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee nev­er shows up. Of late he hasn’t even both­ered to send greet­ings of late. Grays Har­bor and Pacif­ic Coun­ties are Wash­ing­ton’s equiv­a­lent of the Rust Belt, depen­dent on log­ging and shell­fish har­vest­ing. South­west Wash­ing­ton bare­ly shows up much on the Inslee litany of new ener­gy projects.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty lost the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in the Great Lakes states (except for Min­neso­ta and Illi­nois, which backed Hillary Clinton).

Blue col­lar work­ers have become a bedrock of the Repub­li­can Par­ty and Trump sup­port, from the coast of Maine to Aberdeen-Hoquiam.

Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler is a threat­ened polit­i­cal species.

The U.S. House cur­rent­ly has more than one hun­dred women mem­bers, but only a dozen of them are Repub­li­cans. Her­rera Beut­ler gave a rare recent inter­view to Politi­co, as the lone Repub­li­can Lati­na in the “peo­ples’s house.”

Her­rera Beut­ler, forty-one, votes with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion more than eighty per­cent of the time. She did vote against her cau­cus’ attempt to gut the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act when Repub­li­cans con­trolled the House, com­plain­ing of its cru­el­ty to chil­dren depen­dent on Med­ic­aid. She did cast a key vote to main­tain the Endan­gered Species Act, coaxed by then col­league Norm Dicks.

She is pas­sion­ate­ly pro-life. She is moth­er of a daugh­ter, Abi­gail, born with Potter’s Syn­drome, and kept alive by med­ical treat­ment that in which saline injec­tions allowed the baby to live with­out kid­neys. Abi­gail would lat­er receive a kid­ney from her father Daniel Beut­ler. The cou­ple have three children.

Long has made health care a cen­ter­piece of her chal­lenge. She is a fero­cious defend­er of the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act, wants it expand­ed to cov­er those with pre-exist­ing con­di­tions, and favors a pub­lic option. She does not sup­port Medicare For All. She talks dis­trict issues, from expand­ed broad­band ser­vice in rur­al areas to break­ing the impasse over rebuild­ing the I‑5 bridge over the Colum­bia River.

She held a total of forty-six town meet­ings dur­ing the 2018 cam­paign, a forum that the low pro­file Her­rera Beut­ler has avoid­ed in recent years.

The fall cam­paign will fea­ture demo­niz­ing on all sides. Boil­er­plate press releas­es from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee depict Her­rera Beut­ler as a force behind every evil deed of Don­ald Trump.

Repub­li­cans in South­west Wash­ing­ton, mean­while, have depict­ed Democ­rats as vas­sals of the noisy demon­stra­tor class of Seat­tle and Portland.

How goes it? Long will need to expand her mar­gin in Clark Coun­ty. Her­rera-Beut­ler will har­vest a mar­gin of 10,000 votes or so in very con­ser­v­a­tive Lewis Coun­ty. The con­test may well be decid­ed in Cowlitz Coun­ty (home to com­mu­ni­ties like Kel­so and Longview), which in recent years has trend­ed Republican.

Appear­ances can deceive. In the clos­ing days of the 2018 cam­paign, top House
Demo­c­rat Ste­ny Hoy­er, once again the Major­i­ty Leader, was fea­tured at a big Longview fundrais­er in a home look­ing down on Longview and the Colum­bia Riv­er. A day lat­er, Long drew one hun­dred and twen­ty-five peo­ple to a town hall at Low­er Colum­bia Col­lege, and took at least fifty of them out can­vass­ing with her.

Her­rera Beut­ler was in town that day, draw­ing only a cou­ple dozen peo­ple to a light­ly attend­ed event. Days lat­er, the incum­bent eas­i­ly car­ried Cowlitz Coun­ty.

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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