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 (The lawsuit was promptly withdrawn after AG Bob Ferguson sought sanctions).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.