Prior to the end of voting in the midterms, the national FiveThirtyEight aggregator gave ultra MAGA Republican Joe Kent a ninety-seven percent chance of winning election as the new House member from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.
To the surprise of the Beltway, Kent lost in the mother of 2022 election upsets.
The only two polls of the district included by FiveThirtyEight in its index had actually found Gluesenkamp Perez very competitive with Kent, yet the aggregator’s model ignored them, relying instead on predictions from ratings outfits.
The aforementioned polls were commissioned by Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign (in August) and by the Northwest Progressive Institute (in September), respectively. Each showed the two candidates just a few points apart in the mid-forties.
Seattle supporters joined Democratic Representative elect Marie Gluesenkamp-Perez lifting cups in celebration Thursday night.
“People like me don’t make it to Congress often,” the Skamania County resident and co-owner of a Portland auto repair shop told them.
Looking ahead, however, Gluesenkamp Perez said of 2024 and Republicans: “This is their number one pickup.” She ain’t kidding, having won with 50.14 percent of the vote. Joe Kent, a 2020 election denier, has become a 2022 sore loser. He paid for a machine recount, using the recount as a vehicle to keep raising money.
Gluesenkamp Perez has a short time to do a lot of multitasking.
She needs to staff an office in Washington, D.C., and field a top notch constituent operation back home to meet needs of a needy. She needs to build up expertise on both national and Southwest Washington-specific issues.
Interviewed in the latest edition of The Nation, Gluesenkamp Perez is attracting attention across the country as a rural Democrat who ran well in small towns and blue collar areas. “She is so unlike anybody else, but she is the future for our party,” Suzi LeVine, former Ambassador to Switzerland, told the gathering.
Gluesenkamp Perez carried Pacific County, which Senator Patty Murray lost. She ran well ahead of Murray in Republican-trending Cowlitz and Skamania Counties.
Gluesenkamp Perez faces an overarching task. She needs to secure reelection to continue representing Southwest Washington. Upset winners have targets on their backs when they seek a second term. Being proactive is the key to survival.
LeVine suggests a “porcupine strategy”: Erect such formidable defenses and raise such a war chest that “nobody will touch you.” Later, she elaborated: “By raising the necessary and formidable resources early and often will enable Marie to spend less time raising money and more time meeting the needs of her constituents – the number one factor in keeping her seat.”
The press loves to talk about money, but service is a bigger source of sustenance and survival. It’s also much more enjoyable that walking blocks from House office buildings to party offices in order to spend hours “dialing for dollars.”
After flipping a seat held by Republicans for thirty-six years, Representative Kim Schrier found herself representing a district that straddles the Cascades. The Issaquah pediatrician focused on concerns of Republican-leaning Chelan and Kittitas Counties. Schrier became a champion of water enhancement in the Yakima Basin, an expert in removing bottle necks to the export of hay, a helpmate in preventing the cherry crop from freezing.
A diabetic, Schrier has become a force for capping the cost of insulin. She’s held multiple town meetings, studied policing from the seat of a patrol car, and boned up on the U.S. 2 corridor, added to her district through redistricting.
Schrier just won her third term by a margin of 23,000-plus votes, exceeding her 2020 performance against Jesse Jensen despite predictions of a bad environment.
“It was because of people like you” that she won, Gluesenamp Perez told supporters. That’s for sure. She received almost no help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The dollars and doorbell ringers came largely from within the district and state. So did imaginative advertising, such as a television spot showing MGP sliding out from beneath a car under repair.
“All politics is local,” the late House Speaker Tip O’Neil famously said.
We’ve nationalized politics of late, with national party PACs churning out nasty, boilerplate television spots. But connecting with constituents remains a big deal in places like the 3rd and 8th District of Washington State.
Gluesenkamp Perez has a political mountain to climb, and will need Sherpas to help her out. To that end, she has hired two caseworkers from the staff of outgoing Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler.