Joe Kent speaking at a neofascist rally
Joe Kent speaking at a neofascist rally

A recount request­ed and paid for by los­ing ultra MAGA Repub­li­can con­gres­sion­al can­di­date Joe Kent has affirmed that Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-elect Marie Glue­senkamp Perez won the 2022 con­test in Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd Con­gres­sion­al District.

The recount, which involved sev­en coun­ties, added five votes to Ken­t’s tal­ly and nine votes to Glue­senkamp Perez’s tal­ly. At cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, Demo­c­rat Glue­senkamp Perez led by 2,629 votes out of 319,759 total votes cast in the district.

Kent, an extrem­ist who cam­paigned with the endorse­ment of Don­ald Trump, has refused to con­cede defeat, fol­low­ing in the mold of Loren Culp, the 2020 Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date who base­less­ly ques­tioned the results last cycle and even filed a law­suit against the state to keep his grift going. (The law­suit was prompt­ly with­drawn after AG Bob Fer­gu­son sought sanctions).

Although the con­test in WA-03 end­ed with few­er than three thou­sand votes sep­a­rat­ing the can­di­dates, the mar­gin was not tight enough to auto­mat­i­cal­ly trig­ger a recount. Kent request­ed a recount that was paid for at his cam­paign’s expense, exer­cis­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty that state statutes afford to can­di­dates. Notably, Kent opt­ed for a less expen­sive machine recount instead of a hand recount, which sug­gests that his oper­a­tives did­n’t expect the out­come to change.

With the recount now done, Ken­t’s focus appears to be shift­ing to 2024.

Last Thurs­day, Kent appeared at a far-right wing gath­er­ing in Washou­gal and said he’s just going to keep on cam­paign­ing for Con­gress as the 2024 cycle begins.

“I’m run­ning again in 2024,” Kent told the crowd, in an appear­ance doc­u­ment­ed by Leah Anaya of Clark Coun­ty Today. Anaya wrote that Kent also commented:

“The elec­tion has already been cer­ti­fied,” he said, adding that he will not con­cede until he has “reached the lim­it of all we can do.” How­ev­er, he added that he would have con­ced­ed weeks ago “had we received the results in a time­ly man­ner … but that’s not what happened.”

That is a non­sen­si­cal com­ment. Wash­ing­ton State law has long pro­vid­ed for a three-week vote count­ing win­dow in gen­er­al elec­tions and there was noth­ing untime­ly about the deliv­ery of the WA-03 results this year.

In many con­tests, it is appar­ent who the win­ner will be on Elec­tion Night, but in close races, a pro­jec­tion can­not be made on Elec­tion Night or even in the imme­di­ate days fol­low­ing Elec­tion Night because bal­lots are still com­ing in.

In this con­test, many of Joe Ken­t’s vot­ers turned in their bal­lots at the very end of the vot­ing peri­od, and so it’s their votes that were being opened, scanned, tab­u­lat­ed, and report­ed days after Novem­ber 8th.

Kent tac­it­ly acknowl­edged this dur­ing his remarks when he said (accord­ing to Anaya): “There are three weeks of vot­ing in this state… We need to start on day one of the vot­ing win­dow to make sure we are get­ting bal­lots in front of peo­ple, and that they’re turn­ing them in to be counted.”

It’s actu­al­ly the job of the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice to get bal­lots in front of peo­ple — USPS han­dles the deliv­ery after elec­tions offi­cials put bal­lots in the mail. Cam­paigns, of course, engage in get out the vote efforts. It sounds like Kent is pret­ty dis­sat­is­fied with his cam­paign’s GOTV operation.

In the lead up to Elec­tion Day, Kent spoke con­fi­dent­ly of win­ning. After ear­ly results showed Marie Glue­senkamp Perez ahead, Ken­t’s camp sug­gest­ed that late bal­lots would put them ahead. When that did­n’t hap­pen, Ken­t’s camp shift­ed to argu­ing that some of his vot­ers had been dis­en­fran­chised due to the state’s sig­na­ture val­i­da­tion require­ments, result­ing in his loss, rather than accept­ing that he had alien­at­ed a lot of peo­ple in the 3rd with his mil­i­tant extremism.

Kent isn’t the only van­quished Repub­li­can mak­ing 2024 plans.

Politi­co report­ed last week that Her­rera Beut­ler “is con­sid­er­ing a come­back cam­paign for her seat, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with her thinking.”

If that were to hap­pen, the 2024 race in WA-03 would effec­tive­ly be a reprise of the 2022 race, only with Glue­senkamp Perez as the incum­bent instead of Her­rera Beut­ler. Her­rera Beut­ler would need to be able to get past Kent and any oth­er ultra MAGA Repub­li­cans in the Top Two to be able to appear on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot. Giv­en that she could­n’t pull that off this year with the advan­tage of incum­ben­cy, it seems like it would be a tall order to do it in 2024.

NPI has seen chat­ter (which could just be wish­ful think­ing) in sup­port of a dif­fer­ent come­back idea: run­ning for high­er office. The Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­can Par­ty needs a guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date for 2024.

After the dis­as­ter that was Loren Culp’s cam­paign, the par­ty needs a more cred­i­ble can­di­date. Her­rera Beut­ler would def­i­nite­ly be more cred­i­ble, as would Pierce Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Bruce Dammeier, who can’t run for anoth­er term in his cur­rent posi­tion due to term lim­its. How­ev­er, if Her­rera Beut­ler isn’t inter­est­ed, the par­ty will have to look to Dammeier or anoth­er candidate.

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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