Democratic challenger leads U.S. Rep. Herrera Beutler in SW Washington

After a few days of vote counting, Democratic challenger Marie Gluesenkamp Perez leads in the 3rd Congressional District race.

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The Democratic challenger to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has likely secured a spot on the November ballot in the 3rd Congressional District. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez had secured 32% of the vote after several days of counting, while Herrera Beutler was in second place with nearly 24% of the vote.

The gap had widened between the congresswoman from Southwest Washington and the third place candidate, Joe Kent, who had 21% of the vote after a few days of ballot counting. Heidi St. John trailed further behind with 15% of ballots.

The 3rd Congressional District includes Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston and Wahkiakum counties. Election officials in those jurisdictions reported on Thursday they had counted nearly 140,000 votes and had another 100,000 to count, but Herrera Beutler was coming in second place in nearly every county.

At issue in District 3, in the Vancouver, Wash., area, is whether a vote to impeach President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol annoyed local Republicans enough that they needed to find a replacement for Herrera Beutler. 

The otherwise stalwart Republican is considered vulnerable for the first time in many election cycles. She was one of 10 Republican congressional representatives to vote to impeach the former president.

In the 2020 election, Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, was more popular than Donald Trump, defeating her Democratic challenger 56.4% to 43.4% in the Republican-leaning congressional district, compared with Trump's 50.6% to President Joe Biden’s 46.9%. But those numbers also show a significant Democratic presence in the Southwest Washington district.

Her Republican opponents include Joe Kent, who has been endorsed by Trump; and Heidi St. John, a solid conservative and Trump supporter who is willing to reach across the aisle. Herrera Beutler is also a solid conservative, but routinely supports bipartisan legislation. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is the sole Democrat in the race. 

The three Republicans have all raised significant dollars for their campaigns. Perez is behind in fundraising but that could change dramatically if she advances to the general election from the top-two primary. 

If a huge Democratic turnout gives Perez 34% — much lower than 2020’s 43% — of the total primary vote, the math puts her in the top two on the November ballot.

Story has been updated with Thursday's ballot counts.

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