A Trump-endorsed challenger to Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, R‑Washington, was one of two House candidates to speak at Saturday’s “Justice for J6” rally in Washington, D.C., called to defend insurrectionists on trial for their actions at the January 6th invasion of, and attack on, the U.S. Capitol.
“It’s banana republic stuff when political prisoners are arrested and denied due process,” claimed Joe Kent, a former Green Beret running against Herrera Beutler. JHB is normally a party line backbencher but became one of ten House Republicans to cast Yes votes on impeaching Trump for inciting the insurrection.
Even such far-right, well known names as Republican Representatives Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Goslar stayed away from the Saturday protest. Gaetz and Greene have tried to visit imprisoned insurrectionists, but were turned away. Representative Madison Carthorne, R‑North Carolina, has described the incarcerated as “political hostages.”
The demonstration prompted saturation police presence – Washington, D.C., and U.S. Capitol Police were present in full ranks – and the perimeter fence around the Capitol put up after January 6th was re-erected. The protest was, however, a fizzle with only a few hundred people in attendance.
“I’m speaking at the rally for the J6 prisoners in DC for one reason,” Kent tweeted. “Constitutional rights are being denied to hundreds of Americans due to their political affiliation and a narrative based on lies.”
“The establishment is lying, they always have been, reject it.”
Kent had a small crowd at the rally but cashed in on the eve of the event. He was welcomed on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show as an “expert” commentator on the U.S. drone strike in Iraq that killed ten civilians. Fox has been featuring Trumped-backed challengers for the House and Senate.
Trump has described Kent as “a warrior for the America First agenda” while dismissing Herrera Beutler as “a RINO and incompetent.”
Herrera Beutler had an unexpectedly tough 2018 race against WSU Vancouver political scientist Carolyn Long, and was targeted by Democrats in 2020.
She was reelected in both cycles, and Trump narrowly carried Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District last year.
Washington’s Top Two system diminishes prospects that Herrera Beuter will be successfully challenged next year; unlike Republicans in other states, she can’t be “primaried,” since the top two vote getters advance out of the elimination round regardless of party. But expect a very visible Kent. Radio talk show host Larry Elder appeared on Fox News no fewer than fifty-two times during the recall election in which he was running to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Trump is involved in three other congressional races in the West. He has endorsed Republican challengers to both Senator Lisa Murkowski, R‑Alaska, and Representative Liz Cheney, R‑Wyoming. Both voted for the second impeachment. Cheney has defied House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and is serving as vice chair of the House select panel investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Trump is expected to endorse a challenger to Representative Dan Newhouse, another Republican loyalist who surprised many with his vote to impeach.