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.