Elections

Joe Kent stays ahead in sixth Top Two Count; Jaime Herrera Beutler concedes defeat

Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler is out.

The mul­ti-term incum­bent acknowl­edged this evening that she has been oust­ed by the Repub­li­can vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton State’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict for insuf­fi­cient loy­al­ty to Repub­li­can Par­ty boss Don­ald Trump, who Her­rera Beut­ler nobly defied in Jan­u­ary of 2021 when she right­ly vot­ed for impeachment.

Her­rera Beut­ler, forty-three, fell behind Trump’s endorsed chal­lenger Joe Kent in yes­ter­day’s count. She slipped even fur­ther behind today, with her deficit increas­ing from eight hun­dred and thir­teen votes to eight hun­dred and sixty-nine.

Although Kent only improved his advan­tage by a lit­tle, there aren’t out­stand­ing enough bal­lots left for Her­rera Beut­ler to turn things around.

Clark Coun­ty, the 3rd’s pop­u­la­tion cen­ter, is down to just 500 bal­lots await­ing pro­cess­ing, while Cowlitz has 480. Thurston has 7,000 bal­lots still to process, but most of those are from precincts not in the 3rd. The dis­tric­t’s oth­er coun­ties col­lec­tive­ly only have a few dozen bal­lots left to process.

Her­rera Beut­ler was ini­tial­ly elect­ed to rep­re­sent the 3rd in the 2010 midterms, after Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent Bri­an Baird declined to seek anoth­er term, defeat­ing Den­ny Heck, who then ran in the new 10th Dis­trict the fol­low­ing cycle, and won. (Heck served sev­er­al terms, retired, and is now the state’s Lieu­tenant Governor.)

Her­rera Beut­ler secured reelec­tion in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020, though not always with the ease of oth­er incum­bents in Wash­ing­ton State. She has a his­to­ry of per­form­ing poor­ly (for an incum­bent) in the Top Two round, though nev­er as poor­ly as this year. Owing to her vote for Trump’s impeach­ment and oth­er laud­able votes for the good of the coun­try, many Repub­li­cans turned on her.

The result was the shame­ful ele­va­tion of Joe Kent, a mil­i­tant extrem­ist who would be a Pacif­ic North­west ver­sion of Lau­ren Boe­bert or Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene.

Kent was able to move into sec­ond place despite vote-split­ting among the larg­er pro-Trump fac­tion of the 3rd’s right wing elec­torate and despite the attack ads launched against him knock­ing him as a Bernie Sanders sup­port­ing socialist.

Though it seemed to many that Her­rera Beut­ler had enough run­way to pull off a vic­to­ry on Elec­tion Night a week ago, Kent began whit­tling her lead down right away. By Fri­day, Her­rera Beut­ler’s lead was ten­u­ous. As of yes­ter­day after­noon, it was gone and Kent was ahead. Today, Kent locked in his advantage.

Herrera Beutler’s concession statement

“Thank you, South­west Wash­ing­ton, for entrust­ing me six times with the priv­i­lege of rep­re­sent­ing you in Con­gress,” said Her­rera Beut­ler. “Ever since I was first elect­ed to this seat, I have done my very best to serve my home region and our coun­try. Though my cam­paign came up short this time, I’m proud of all we’ve accom­plished togeth­er for the place where I was raised and still call home.”

“Many are things | set out to do: help folks who want to earn a liv­ing find good jobs right here, keep our rivers healthy and fish­able for years to come, make our health sys­tem work bet­ter for those who real­ly need care, allow the peo­ple here to man­age and enjoy their land, and be a voice for those who have slipped between the cracks of gov­ern­ment bureaucracy.”

U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler tweet­ed this image of her enroute to vote with baby Isaac

“When I took office, I said we could improve how health care works for South­west Wash­ing­ton res­i­dents. I’m incred­i­bly proud of get­ting the ACE Kids Act signed into law that helps more low-income kids get life-sav­ing spe­cial­ty med­ical care in this coun­try, as well as leg­is­la­tion to tack­le the mater­nal mor­tal­i­ty cri­sis plagu­ing moms in America.”

“And I’ll always enjoy my con­ver­sa­tions in the gro­cery store with folks who want to chat about the land­mark salmon preser­va­tion law I fought so hard for.”

“Some were pleas­ant sur­pris­es, like grow­ing my fam­i­ly by three won­der­ful chil­dren and in doing so, pro­vid­ing an exam­ple for oth­er women that you can serve your coun­try in elect­ed office while rais­ing a young fam­i­ly, and some were unex­pect­ed and dif­fi­cult. But I’m proud that I always told the truth, stuck to my prin­ci­ples, and did what I knew to be best for our country.”

Marie Perez’s response

“White Nation­al­ist and extrem­ist Joe Kent has now pulled ahead of incum­bent Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler in the late vote counts, and it appears he will be our oppo­nent in Novem­ber,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic hope­ful Marie Perez yes­ter­day. Perez is the top vote get­ter in this round and has the sup­port of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

“This means that our race in Novem­ber is going to be a nation­al bell­wether for the direc­tion of the coun­try, and for the future of our democ­ra­cy. This Novem­ber, the vot­ers of South­west Wash­ing­ton are going to have to make a choice. Do we want to dou­ble down on the hyper­par­ti­san extrem­ism, the false­hoods and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, the attacks on our democ­ra­cy and our elec­tions, the divi­sive­ness and the dys­func­tion that is par­a­lyz­ing the Oth­er Wash­ing­ton and tear­ing our coun­try apart? Because that is what Joe Kent represents.”

“Or can we come togeth­er to demand pos­i­tive change, to find com­mon ground, and to elect a rep­re­sen­ta­tive focused on solv­ing prob­lems and build­ing a bet­ter future for us all? Because that is what my cam­paign is about.”

“As a auto repair shop own­er, a small busi­ness own­er, a mom, and a rur­al res­i­dent of our dis­trict, I know that a lot of folks around here are frus­trat­ed and look­ing for change. We need solu­tions to low­er the costs of gas and gro­ceries, and we need a fair play­ing field. We’ve had enough of an econ­o­my that caters more to cor­po­ra­tions and wealthy elites over work­ing families.”

Con­gres­sion­al hope­ful Marie Perez (cam­paign photo)

“We want a real oppor­tu­ni­ty to attain the Amer­i­can Dream. If I am your rep­re­sen­ta­tive, my com­mit­ment is to work every day to make that hap­pen. I pledge to put the inter­ests of our dis­trict ahead of any­thing else, includ­ing my party.”

“Joe Kent is the oppo­site. He seeks to divide us, and if elect­ed, he will be a dan­ger to our democ­ra­cy and an embar­rass­ment to our dis­trict. He sees con­spir­a­cies every­where. He spreads the lie that the 2020 elec­tion was stolen and still attacks Repub­li­cans and non-par­ti­san elec­tion offi­cials who say there is no evi­dence Trump won. He was even a co-plain­tiff in friv­o­lous elec­tion fraud law­suits here in Wash­ing­ton State. Just ear­li­er today he went on Steve Bannon’s pod­cast to cast doubts on the legit­i­ma­cy of this election.”

“Does he still think it is fraud­u­lent now that he’s winning?”

“Fur­ther­more, he has a track record of mak­ing extreme state­ments, and spread­ing ugly racial­ly charged claims. His unapolo­getic extrem­ism and divi­sive approach demon­strate he is unfit for pub­lic office.”

“So I say to all vot­ers across the polit­i­cal spec­trum, democ­rats, inde­pen­dents and  Repub­li­cans, I say the fol­low­ing: please con­sid­er join­ing our cam­paign. I will wel­come your sup­port. I won’t tag you with dis­parag­ing labels or write you off because we may not agree 100 per­cent on every issue, the way Joe Kent will. Instead, I will lis­ten, I will be hon­est and acces­si­ble, and I will deliv­er real results on the issues we all care about.”

“With your back­ing we can reject extrem­ism and sup­port the com­mon good. I look for­ward to earn­ing you sup­port over the next few months.”

Andrew Villeneuve

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