Six-term U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler conceded defeat to Donald Trump-endorsed challenger Joe Kent on Tuesday after new vote totals confirmed she would place third in the primary.
This concession was further proof of the political price paid by Republicans who dared to impeach Trump for his role in the January 2021 attack on the US Capitol. Of the 10 House Republicans who joined Democrats in that vote, Herrera Beutler was the seventh to retire or be ousted in a primary.
Kent, an Army veteran and first-time candidate, will face Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in November. She placed first in the primary with around 31% of the vote against 23% for Kent and 22% for Herrera Beutler.
In a concession statement prepared just after 5 p.m., Herrera Beutler thanked voters in Washington’s southwest 3rd congressional district for their support over many years, and cited accomplishments that included working to help the industry. fishing and passing legislation to help low-income children get specialized medical care.
“Since I was first elected to this seat, I have done my best to serve my home region and our country. Although my campaign failed this time around, I am proud of all we have achieved together for the place I grew up in and where I still call home,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement.
Herrera Beutler did not mention Kent or Trump, but made an apparent reference to her vote to impeach Trump following the attack on the Capitol.
Referring to “unexpected and difficult times”, Herrera Beutler said: “I am proud to have always spoken the truth, to have remained true to my principles and to have done what I knew was best for our country”.
Trump released a statement Tuesday night celebrating the defeat of Herrera Beutler.
“Joe Kent just won an incredible race against all odds in Washington State. Above all, he knocked out another impeacher, Jaime Herrera Beutler, who so stupidly played into the hands of the Democrats,” Trump said. “Joe is a great guy, who bravely served our country as a Green Beret. He has a really bright future.
Kent’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
He ran a campaign marked by loyalty to Trump – echoing the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election and promoting an ‘America First’ agenda, including a near total shutdown of immigration and refugees. He also pledged to act immediately to impeach President Joe Biden if elected and to launch investigations into Democrats.
On social media and in appearances on Fox News, Kent strongly criticized the FBI’s search warrant executed on Monday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, where agents allegedly searched for classified documents illegally taken by the former President.
“Now, more than ever, we must unite to save our nation. The enemy is organized and on the attack, we must be ready to strike back,” Kent tweeted on Monday.
Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, had led Kent on election night but slipped in the subsequent vote count, ultimately falling behind Kent on Monday. After recounts Tuesday in Clark and Thurston counties, Kent held on to second place, leading Herrera Beutler by 928 votes out of more than 200,000 that were cast in the race.
Kent qualified for the general election despite a flood of attack announcements fueled by more than $4 million in outdoor PAC the money intended to help the incumbent pass the primary and the widespread anger of GOP voters over her impeachment vote. Some of that money came from a newly created super PAC that timed its spending to avoid revealing its donors before the end of the primary.
A veteran of the Green Berets and husband of the Gold Star, Kent first met Trump at Dover Air Force Base in 2019, after Kent’s wife, Navy cryptologist Shannon Kent, was killed by suicide bomber in Syria while fighting the terrorist group Islamic State.
Asset approved Kent last yearcalling him a “warrior for the America First agenda” and attacking Herrera Beutler for supporting “the Democrat impeachment scam”.
Gluesenkamp Perez lives in rural Skamania County and co-owns an auto repair shop in Portland with her husband. She was involved in the state Democratic Party and unsuccessfully ran for the Skamania County Board of Commissioners in 2016.
In a statement Monday after Kent passed Hererra Beutler for second place, Gluesenkamp Perez said the November race would be “a national indicator for the direction of our country.”
Calling Kent a white nationalist for his ties to extremist groups, she said his “unapologetic extremism and divisive approach demonstrates he is unfit for public office”.
The race can still head to a mandatory recount, although these almost never change the outcome. An automatic recount is required if the gap between candidates #2 and #3 is less than half of 1% and less than 2,000 votes.