Elections

Herrera Beutler challenger Joe Kent was among the speakers at D.C. rally supporting the January 6th insurrectionists

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.

Joel Connelly

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