Joe Kent (campaign photo)
Joe Kent (campaign photo)

Repub­li­can Joe Kent today con­ced­ed to Demo­c­ra­t­ic Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Marie Glue­senkamp Perez in Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, belat­ed­ly acknowl­edg­ing at last that he lost and Glue­senkamp Perez won.

“I promised dur­ing the cam­paign that I would accept the out­come of the elec­tion, now defin­i­tive­ly deter­mined as the recount has con­clud­ed,” Kent said in a state­ment issued today by his cam­paign. “This morn­ing, I called my oppo­nent to con­cede and offer my con­grat­u­la­tions on her victory.”

In the recount, paid for by Ken­t’s cam­paign, Glue­senkamp Perez actu­al­ly gained votes, caus­ing her mar­gin of vic­to­ry to increase ever so slightly.

“I’m glad Joe Kent accept­ed his loss, and I look for­ward to serv­ing as South­west Wash­ing­ton’s inde­pen­dent voice in Con­gress,” Glue­senkamp Perez said fol­low­ing Ken­t’s com­ments. “Democ­ra­cy is alive and well in our cor­ner of the country.”

The bulk of Ken­t’s state­ment was defi­ant rather than accept­ing, how­ev­er. Not con­tent with a sim­ple and grace­ful con­ces­sion, Kent pro­ceed­ed to gripe about the results and vow that he’ll be back for a rematch. Here’s what else he said:

While I’m dis­ap­point­ed that we did not pre­vail, our cam­paign and our sup­port­ers have a lot to be proud of. We defeat­ed a twelve-year incum­bent in the pri­ma­ry and came with­in a sin­gle per­cent­age point of win­ning the gen­er­al despite an unprece­dent­ed $14.2 mil­lion spent against me, includ­ing mil­lions in spe­cial inter­est dark money.

In this loss is an impor­tant les­son. We’ve iden­ti­fied over eighty-one thou­sand Repub­li­cans who did not vote in the Gen­er­al Elec­tion. Democ­rats have tak­en full advan­tage of bal­lot har­vest­ing laws in Wash­ing­ton State, but Repub­li­cans lag far behind.

We can­not con­tin­ue to lose the vot­er turnout bat­tle. Our par­ty must adapt and I look for­ward to help­ing lead this change.

I want to thank our many staffers, vol­un­teers, donors, and vot­ers. I’m also grate­ful to the lead­ers in the state and coun­ty Repub­li­can par­ties who worked hard to ensure this was a legit­i­mate election.

My mes­sage to any­one dis­ap­point­ed in our loss is to hold fast to the ener­gy and opti­mism that I saw at every one of the three hun­dred ral­lies and town­halls we held across the dis­trict because our cam­paign is not at a sad end but a strong beginning.

I will have more to say in ear­ly Jan­u­ary. Rest assured that I’m not done yet.

Ken­t’s com­ments about “bal­lot har­vest­ing” are weird. Per­haps he is not aware that it’s actu­al­ly Repub­li­cans who have a his­to­ry of engag­ing in dubi­ous bal­lot col­lec­tion schemes in Wash­ing­ton State. Like the “vic­to­ry vans” from 2012:

A big con­tro­ver­sy is brew­ing about a new Repub­li­can tac­tic to col­lect bal­lots from King Coun­ty voters.

Democ­rats are cry­ing foul and elec­tion offi­cials are urg­ing peo­ple to use autho­rized drop-off locations.

Repub­li­cans have placed “GOP Vic­to­ry Vans” in shop­ping cen­ter park­ing lots to col­lect ballots.

Elec­tions offi­cials said they’ve heard reports about the new GOP “get-out-the-vote” tac­tic but don’t know how many vot­ers have entrust­ed their bal­lots to the party.

King Coun­ty Repub­li­cans said that they have col­lect­ed about 100 bal­lots so far, and that door-to-door can­vassers are offer­ing to deliv­er vot­ers’ bal­lots to offi­cial drop boxes.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s get-out-the-vote oper­a­tion is for­mi­da­ble — there’s no doubt about that — but the par­ty’s suc­cess at get­ting out the vote isn’t due to “bal­lot har­vest­ing laws” like Kent says. As tough as it is for Kent to admit, he was out-worked and out-orga­nized in this elec­tion. Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd is a solid­ly Repub­li­can dis­trict, but Marie Glue­senkamp Perez was able to win it because she suc­cess­ful­ly appealed to Repub­li­can as well as Demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent vot­ers. In the end, she ran a bet­ter cam­paign that res­onat­ed with more people.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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