Marie Perez, candidate for Congress
Congressional hopeful Marie Perez (campaign photo)

With a lit­tle more than sev­en months to go until Elec­tion Day, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has anoth­er can­di­date will­ing to take on Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler in Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict: Marie Perez, a small busi­ness own­er and DNC mem­ber from Ska­ma­nia Coun­ty, a part of rur­al Wash­ing­ton locat­ed between Van­cou­ver and Yaki­ma on the north­ern side of the Colum­bia River.

“For too long, res­i­dents of South­west Wash­ing­ton have been ignored by politi­cians in both par­ties who are more inter­est­ed in cater­ing to extremes than help­ing work­ing peo­ple,” said Perez in a state­ment declar­ing her candidacy.

“I know how hard it is to make ends meet right now and that is exact­ly why I’m run­ning for Con­gress — to be a voice for work­ing peo­ple again.”

Perez owns an auto­mo­bile repair shop with her hus­band Dean and says that access to health­care and child­care is a big issue for their fam­i­ly. The cou­ple have a new­born son and can’t afford a health insur­ance pol­i­cy that would cov­er all three of them. Child­care and health­care will be cen­tral themes in Perez’s cam­paign, which will also focus on get­ting big mon­ey out of politics.

Perez sup­ports ban­ning mem­bers of Con­gress from trad­ing stocks.

“In Con­gress, I will fight for an econ­o­my that puts work­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans first, not last, invest in career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion and I will fight every day for afford­able health­care and child­care,” Perez said.

Perez is the fifth Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date to declare her can­di­da­cy, fol­low­ing Brent Hen­nrich, a the­ater indus­try vet­er­an from Van­cou­ver, and Christo­pher May­nard, Davy Ray, and Lucy Lauser. May­nard and Ray have not report­ed any con­tri­bu­tions, while Lauser has report­ed just one dona­tion. Hen­nrich has raised $45,366.16.

Incum­bent Repub­li­can Her­rera Beut­ler, forty-three, is also being chal­lenged from the extreme right by a cadre of Trump loy­al­ists, notably Joe Kent, Hei­di St. John, Wash­ing­ton State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Vic­ki Kraft, and Wadi Yakhour.

Kent recent­ly snagged Don­ald Trump’s high­ly cov­et­ed endorse­ment and looks like the strongest of Her­rera Beut­ler’s Trump loy­al­ist opponents.

The Trafal­gar Group, a Repub­li­can-aligned firm, has been polling reg­u­lar­ly in WA-03. Last week, the firm found Her­rera Beut­ler com­ing in third, behind Joe Kent and Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger Hen­nrich in a sur­vey of 697 like­ly vot­ers. Hen­nrich, the only Demo­c­rat named in the sur­vey, got 32.8%, while Kent got 25.5%, Her­rera Beut­ler got 22.1%, St. John got 11.5%, and Vic­ki Kraft got 4.7%.

Regard­less of whether Trafal­gar Group’s polling is cred­i­ble or not, Her­rera Beut­ler is def­i­nite­ly at risk of being squeezed out in the Top Two election.

Only the top two vote get­ters will advance out of the August Top Two qual­i­fy­ing round, regard­less of par­ty affil­i­a­tion. If the Repub­li­can vote is severe­ly split, and if a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Repub­li­can vot­ers flee from Her­rera Beut­ler, egged on by Don­ald Trump and his entourage, that means that either two Democ­rats could go on to the gen­er­al elec­tion with no Repub­li­cans on the bal­lot, or one of the Democ­rats could get one of the Top Two spots along with one of Her­rera Beut­ler’s oppo­nents (most like­ly Joe Kent, giv­en his back­ing from Trump.)

In 2018, the last midterm cycle, Her­rera Beut­ler did poor­ly in the Top Two, cap­tur­ing just 42% of the vote. Her oppo­nents col­lec­tive­ly got 58% of the vote. How­ev­er, Her­rera Beut­ler did well enough that she was able to van­quish her Repub­li­can chal­lengers, leav­ing her with just Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion in the gen­er­al elec­tion. It looks like it’ll be hard­er to pull off that feat this time around.

In addi­tion to vot­ing to impeach Don­ald Trump, Her­rera Beut­ler vot­ed to cer­ti­fy the results of the 2020 elec­tion and cross­es the aisle to vote with Democ­rats more often than Dan New­house or Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers do. For instance, Her­rera Beut­ler vot­ed to hold Steve Ban­non in con­tempt of Con­gress. That has great­ly angered the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s base in Wash­ing­ton State, which was already not enthu­si­as­tic about Her­rera Beut­ler’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion before the 2020 election.

The new 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict is a Repub­li­can-lean­ing dis­trict, much like its pre­de­ces­sor. A nar­row major­i­ty of the new dis­trict vot­ed for Don­ald Trump in 2020, and 54.5% backed Loren Culp for Gov­er­nor. The new 3rd also has a com­pos­ite 2016–2020 vot­ing score of 51.9% Repub­li­can and 46.4% Democratic.

(That score uti­lizes data from the 2016 and 2020 pres­i­den­tial races, U.S. Sen­ate races in 2016 and 2018, and Gov­er­nor and Attor­ney Gen­er­al in 2020.)

It won’t be easy for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date to win WA-03 this year, but the dis­trict is nev­er­the­less in play. If Her­rera Beut­ler ends up get­ting oust­ed in the Top Two, the gen­er­al elec­tion would become a race with open seat dynam­ics rather than a con­test between a long­time incum­bent and a first time candidate.

We’ll be keep­ing an eye on this race through­out the rest of the cycle.

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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