The thirty-second television spot being deployed by six-term Republican United States Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler echoes themes repeatedly used by Democratic candidates to spotlight health care costs, an issue which the Democrats in this state have owned since the 1990s.
It’s narrated by a Vancouver mom whose two sons have diabetes, a shaping factor in their lives, and delivers the message.
“Jaime Herrera Beutler understands. She knows what it’s like to have to fight to get the medical care your child needs. She’s been fighting for my boys, too.”
“Jaime listened when I told her about the skyrocketing cost of insulin,” viewers are told. She is “fighting to cap the cost of insulin.”
Across the screen is the message: “Jaime Herrera Beutler’s ‘miracle baby’ first to survive Potter’s Syndrome.”
The ad does not make just one point or two but drives home a trio of themes. Herrera Beutler is looking after the welfare of her 3rd District (Southwest Washington) constituents. She has been an independent voice on the national issue of drug prices, breaking with her party. She has a personal story to tell, of fighting to get experimental treatment upon learning that her unborn baby suffered a condition in the utero when there are no kidneys.
Herrera Beutler was one of ten House Republicans voting to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6th, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
She “outed” a phone conversation in which the 45th president berated House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, saying: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people (insurrectionists) are more upset about the election than you are.”
Trump has embarked on a vengeance campaign, endorsing Republican challenger Joe Kent. A second pro-Trump voice, Heidi St. John, is also running in the upcoming August primary. Kent had $1.070 million in the bank as of March 31st, St. John a $282,887 war chest.
Kent has gone national. He held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. He spoke at a sparsely attended Washington, D.C., rally in support of the insurrectionists being investigated and indicted for invading the Capitol.
He is a frequent guest of Tucker Carlson on FNC.
He even imported militant extremist Matt Gaetz to Vancouver for a rally.
But the old Tip O’Neill truism holds true, especially in Southwest Washington: All politics is local, especially when one’s constituents are needy.
Herrera Beutler beat back a blue chip Democratic challenger, WSU-Vancouver professor Carolyn Long, in 2018 and 2020. She used a reputation for constituent services to secure votes in small cities and rural areas in the district. She won on traditionally Democratic turf, namely Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties.
Since Washington holds two-part general election consisting of an August Top Two qualifying round, followed by a November runoff, as opposed to a party primary, Herrera Beutler is in a position to court Democratic voters.
It’s there to be courted. Democrats have neglected this corner of the state and forfeited legislative and local elections as a result.
Democrats do have a candidate to challenge Herrera Beutler: small business owner Marie Perez, who recently secured the endorsement of a rival candidate, Brent Hennrich. Hennrich withdrew his candidacy before the end of Filing Week to give Perez a better chance of getting through the Top Two.
Herrera Beutler had over $2 million in the bank at the beginning of April. Perez had raised just $67,059.38, having begun her campaign only a few weeks ago.
Democrats have pointed out that Herrera Beutler went along with some – but not all – of the repeal votes sponsored by House Republican leaders to nix the Patient Protection Act. And, as a member of Congress, she was able to enlist treatment at Johns Hopkins for baby Abigail.
The flip side, however, is that doctors told her Potter’s Syndrome was one hundred percent fatal. The saline treatment involved constant journeys north to Baltimore. Ultimately, the dialysis worked until baby Abigail was big enough to survive a kidney transplant. The donor was her father Dan Beutler. (Herrera Beutler is only the ninth lawmaker to give birth while serving in Congress.)
Hence, there is truth in Herrera Beutler’s message. She was one of only five House Republicans to vote for the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act in May of 2019, and one of just two Republican votes in favor of the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act six months later.
As well, the Herrera Beutler television spot is worlds apart from the usual cookie-cutter stuff conceived and peddled by Republican political consultants.
In fact, the fighting-for-us theme is one that has been a staple for Democratic Senator Patty Murray. Representative Kim Schrier, herself a person living with diabetes, has put a spotlight on high drug costs.
Herrera Beutler may be picking up on the opposition’s themes, but look at it this way: It’s good to see somebody from the other side courting the neglected Democrats of Southwest Washington.