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, December 20th, 2022

Democrats champion “porcupine” strategy to keep Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in Congress

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.

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