The campaign of Democratic congressional hopeful Marie Gluesenkamp Perez released internal polling today that shows Perez narrowly ahead of ultra MAGA Republican rival Joe Kent in the forthcoming general election for United States Representative in Washington’s 3rd, suggesting that there is a path to victory for Perez and the Democrats in a district they haven’t captured since 2008.
Gluesenkamp Perez and Kent emerged as the two finalists in last month’s Top Two election, ousting incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was first elected to represent the district in 2010. Herrera Beutler angered the Trump base by voting to impeach Trump following the January 6th insurrection that Trump incited.
Kent — an ultra MAGA Republican in the mold of Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and Marjorie Taylor Greene — secured and campaigned with Trump’s endorsement.
Gluesenkamp Perez, who declared her candidacy only a few weeks before Filing Week, placed first in the Top Two as a consequence of Republican vote splitting. Another Democratic candidate, Brent Hennrich, bowed out and endorsed her before the deadline to file, helping unify Democrats behind her.
Now, with Herrera Beutler out, Gluesenkamp Perez is the only alternative on the ballot to Kent. Her campaign hopes the Democratic Party will prioritize the race, especially now that she has data indicating she has a path to victory.
“In an initial head-to-head ballot test, before voters are primed with any additional information, Gluesenkamp Perez leads Kent, 47% to 45%, with eight percent of voters undecided,” Perez’s campaign said in a release.
“These results are incredibly encouraging and show that people are tired of extremists hijacking Washington. They want their representative to understand their everyday challenges and are willing to work with anyone to solve them,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement sent to the press.
“As a small business owner of a repair shop, I know first-hand that government is often in the way and that crime is out of control. I’ll work to streamline bureaucracies and secure investments for things like job training programs to give people real skills to get good jobs, so small businesses like mine can finally solve worker shortages.”
The poll was conducted for the Gluesenkamp Perez campaign by the Democratic-aligned firm Expedition Strategies from August 25th-30th, 2022. 400 likely general election voters participated. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.9%.
The campaign says that in addition to finding Gluesenkamp Perez just ahead of Kent in an initial head-to-head, its research has found that Kent is “well known and widely disliked among district voters.” Specifically, 75% of respondents said they know enough to have formed an opinion of Kent, with 39% expressing an unfavorable view. Notably, 30% have a strongly negative view.
Fewer voters have formed an opinion about Gluesenkamp Perez yet, but most of those who do have an opinion indicated their first impressions are positive. 29% overall view her favorably and another 17% view her unfavorably.
The campaign’s internal polling was mentioned and reproduced by Politico’s Playbook newsletter this morning, ensuring it will be noticed by at least some folks in the Other Washington. The Cook Political Report already reclassified the contest as “Leans Republican” following Herrera Beutler’s loss last month.
Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign has published and distributed a memo sharing selected highlights from its internal poll, which you can read below.Internal Marie Perez polling highlights
A notable number of respondents said that they think the terms “a MAGA supporter” and “extremist” best describe Kent, who has loudly gone on record in defense of the January 6th insurrectionists and demanded they be left alone.
Medved also characterized Gluesenkamp Perez as the leading candidate.
“I think that most people of conscience will not be able to support Joe Kent, whether he’s the Republican nominee or not. And this is the basic point. These are primaries we’re talking about. The reason Jaime [Herrera] Beutler lost is not because she doesn’t have majority support in her district. It’s because Republicans were split here,” Medved said in an appearance on the Gee and Ursula Show. “Democrats were united, there was only one Democratic candidate, who I believe has to be considered the front runner right now in that district.”
Medved then pointed out that the Republican Party has turned into a cult.
“I find it intensely worrisome and very depressing that one of our two major parties has become a more like a cult of personality where basically everything is measured, and everything is evaluated based upon your loyalty to one man.”
While Medved’s observation about the Republican Party is spot on, it’s worth noting that Washington State utilizes a two part general election rather than a real primary to select candidates for office. If Herrera Beutler did in fact have overall majority support in WA-03, she would have survived and advanced to the Top Two, regardless of the ultra MAGA faction voting for another candidate.
But she lost because most Republican voters turned on her and she couldn’t get Democratic support to make up for it. Democratic voters not surprisingly opted for a Democratic candidate — Gluesenkamp Perez. It is a scenario that the candidate has been talking about for months on the trail with anyone who would listen.
Now that scenario has come to pass. There’s no incumbent in this race anymore. By all accounts, interest in her candidacy among Democrats is skyrocketing.
So are donations: Gluesenkamp Perez raised more than $600,000 just in August.
Republicans may scoff at the notion of WA-03 flipping this November. But Mary Peltola’s win this week in Alaska demonstrates that what has long been thought of as Republican turf can be won by a Democrat, especially when the Republicans put up an unappealing candidate. Anything is possible in politics.