Washington’s 3rd Congressional District will soon be represented by a Democrat again. Today, major mass media outlets projected that small business owner Marie Gluesenkamp Perez has prevailed over ultra MAGA Republican Joe Kent in the hard-fought race to pick a successor to incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, who Republican voters ousted in August for insufficient loyalty to Donald Trump.
The projection for Gluesenkamp Perez was triggered by a Saturday count of ballots in Clark County, the district’s vote-rich base, that showed Gluesenkamp Perez holding steady, with Kent stalled out. Clark’s pool of outstanding ballots now numbers just 5,000. The district’s other counties have collectively less than that.
“I am humbled and honored by the vote of confidence the people of Southwest Washington have put in me and my campaign,” said Representative-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in a statement. “Right up to the end, far-away pundits and prognosticators said this race couldn’t be won. They dismissed the possibility that a moderate Democrat focused on prioritizing the needs of this district over partisan point scoring could win in a rural, working class district.”
“But national pundits did not know this district and its communities the way we do here on the ground. I know the people in my district are looking for representation that focuses on finding common ground and delivering results, not the extreme hyperpartisanship and clickbait politics offered by my opponent. They want their independent voice in Congress to be a small business owner and a mom who works in the trades, not an extreme politician seeking celebrity.”
“At the outset of the general election campaign we said this race would be a bellwether for the direction of our politics and the strength of our democracy, and that remains true today. Joe Kent’s candidacy gave voice to some of the darkest impulses in our politics: white nationalism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism. Southwest Washington looked them straight in the eye and said no — not here, not now, not ever.”
“The people have spoken, not just here but all around the country: they want representatives who will seek to build rather than destroy, who will listen and do the work rather than bask in celebrity, and who will focus on substance, not slogans or sound bites. To the people of Southwest Washington: I pledge to you that I will work every day to live up to the responsibility you have placed in me, and will deliver the help working and middle class families need.”
Gluesenkamp Perez and her supporters gathered at Loowit Brewing in Vancouver after the race was called to celebrate having pulled off what is being called an upset, but what was in reality always a winnable race that simply needed to be run by a strong candidate able to run a campaign based on identity and trust.
We were the only organization that independently surveyed likely voters in the district between the August 2022 Top Two election and this month’s November 2022 general election and then publicly released our key findings.
“It won’t be easy… but a Democratic victory in WA-03 this cycle is an achievable objective,” I wrote back in September when we assessed the polling data.
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and her team have now proved our assessment correct. They ran a strong campaign that was fresh and imaginative — one that focused on a hopeful and positive vision for the future rather than the politics of destruction and disinformation that Republican Joe Kent represents.
Kent, incidentally, isn’t conceding — and no one expected him to.
He tweeted today: “What the media says is irrelevant, it’s another narrative designed to stop voters from ballot curing & to force me to concede — not gonna happen. We’re on the streets ballot curing. The fight goes on while the talking heads talk. Power dry & check your ballot.”
It is true that projections have no legal significance. But Kent is behind by 4,621 votes and is not going to be able to catch up by getting ballots cured.
For the Washington State Democratic Party, the victory is the exclamation mark on a midterm cycle that was another blue wave. The party’s capture of WA-08 was the signature win of the 2018 midterms. This will undoubtedly be the signature win of the 2022 midterms. It’s a pickup that Democrats sorely needed in the incredibly close battle with the Republicans for a House majority.
“Planned Parenthood is thrilled to congratulate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez on her victory in WA-03. As a former Planned Parenthood patient, Marie understands the importance of accessible, affordable, high-quality reproductive health care,” said Courtney Normand, Washington State Director at Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, in a statement. “We know she will be a steadfast champion for abortion rights and reproductive health care access in Washington, D.C., and we look forward to working with her to improve health care for all Washingtonians.”
NPI’s survey found in September that a majority of likely voters in the 3rd preferred Gluesenkamp Perez’s position supporting reproductive rights, while only a third preferred Joe Kent’s extreme position opposing reproductive rights. We characterized that finding as important to her chances of winning the race.
Roxana Norouzi of OneAmerica called the win “the result of decades of organizing and electoral work in southwest Washington.” Norouzi added: “In a race as close as this, every voter-to-voter conversation matters. As of right now, there are just over 5,000 votes between Marie and Kent–we contacted 20,000 voters in the 3rd and helped close that gap. Our door-to-door canvassing, phone banking and mail helped make immigrants a significant and clear margin of victory for this race.”
NPI congratulates Representative-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and all of her supporters on this incredible win. This is an era-defining triumph that will go down in the annals of Washington State and American political history. WA-03 has returned to having Democratic representation with a young Democrat who is prepared to work hard and provide excellent constituent services.
We look forward to Marie’s swearing-in this January, and to including her votes in our Last Week In Congress series in the 118th Congress.