NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

Jaime Herrera Beutler courts Democratic voters as 2022 Top Two election draws near

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.

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