Race to become top challenger to Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd Congressional District heats up with Donald Trump’s endorsement
The gloves have officially come off in the battle to see who will become the main Republican challenger to incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler in the race for U.S. representative in the 3rd Congressional District.
Earlier this year, three Republicans — Joe Kent, Heidi St. John and Wadi Yakhour — stepped forward to challenge the six-term congresswoman, citing Herrera Beutler’s vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump in January for his perceived role in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol Complex. Herrera Beutler was one of 10 Republican representatives to vote in favor of Trump’s impeachment.
There was a great deal of anticipation among those following the 3rd Congressional District race of a potential endorsement from Trump, who has openly vowed to campaign against the Republicans who voted in favor of impeachment. On Sept. 1, Trump announced that he was endorsing Kent.
Kent thanked the former president for his endorsement on Twitter. His campaign manager Byron Sanford offered a statement to Clark County Today via email.
“With the endorsement from President Trump, it is clear that Joe Kent is the frontrunner,’’ Sanford wrote. “Joe outraised Jaime by more than a two to one margin among individual contributors in the second financial quarter. Jaime is weak, holds no public events. and is financed by big pharma and Mitt Romney. We look forward to defeating her next year.’’
Days later, St. John issued a reaction to the Trump endorsement, saying she was undeterred.
“For the first 200 years of America’s history, congressional races were about electing a qualified person who understood and could best represent the issues of a particular congressional district,’’ St. John stated. “In recent years, that has changed. In many races, the focus is on building a congressional coalition for either the liberal or conservative agenda. President Trump is understandably focused on building that coalition and on payback for RINO representatives like Jaime Herrera-Butler who voted for impeachment. Unfortunately, Mar-a-Lago is about as far away from Washington’s 3rd Congressional as you can get — nearly 2700 miles. The former President neither knows nor understands the issues that are important to 3rd district voters. I do.’’
St. John, a resident of Battle Ground, continued to brand herself as the Clark County candidate. Kent purchased a home in Yacolt in June 2020 after living and growing up in Portland. St. John has lived in Southwest Washington since 1999.
“While both Joe Kent and I represent a dependable vote for the America-first agenda in Washington DC, I’m the only candidate who has lived in the district, worked in the district, and been a conservative activist in the district for nearly two decades,’’ St. John stated. “Joe is a johnny-come-lately who is deeply tied to the beltway and a former Portland resident where he was a registered democrat.’’
In her statement, St. John also addressed a pledge that she, Kent and Yakhour each made at a candidate forum held in March.
“In March 2021, when I was brand-new to this race, I participated in a forum with Joe Kent,’’ St. John said. “We were asked if we would support whoever Trump endorsed. We all said we would, in good faith — because we believed each of us could represent the area well. It has been said, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ There was much I did not know about Mr. Kent when I said I would support him if he got Trump’s endorsement. Now I know better.
“Joe isn’t who I thought he was,’’ St. John continued. “He isn’t from here. He is an opportunist who has a history of bending the truth and members of his campaign have launched a democrat-style, dirty campaign against me, full of fake news and outright lies. People govern how they campaign. Joe is not the person I want representing me, my children, my grandchildren or this district, and so, I am going to stay in the race.
“If we want to change the way things are done in Washington DC, we need to send true representatives to speak for us,’’ she added. “If elected, I believe that Joe will promptly return to his Beltway friends and abandon his constituents, just like Jaime Hererra-Butler. Voters have never had a more dramatic choice. I’m running to represent our district, AND I will be a powerful voice in defending our families against the progressive agenda that is dismantling this amazing country one piece of devastating legislation at a time.’’
Kent Campaign Advisor Matt Braynard provided a response to St. John’s comments.
“Heidi St. John’s comments are deceptive,” Braynard wrote in an email to Clark County Today. “In 1999, when Heidi moved to Boring, Oregon, which is farther from the district than Portland, Joe had already been serving in the Army for a year. When she eventually moved into the district in 2004, Joe was on his second deployment to Fallujah. After his wife was killed serving in Syria in 2019, Joe left government service. In 2020 he settled with his two sons in the district to provide stability since it’s near where he grew up and nearby his parents.”
“Three of these candidates made a promise to the public to drop out based on the Trump endorsement,” Braynard stated. “One was endorsed, one kept their promise, and one has decided to break that promise. Politicians breaking a promise after they are elected is nothing new, but breaking a basic and clear promise long before the election is a new low. Given we are in a jungle primary, her presence in the race only helps to re-elect Jaime Herrera Beutler.”
We must come together as one. Or we all loose again!
It is super sad to see her agree with Joe Kent at every forum but then go back on her word about dropping out and endorsing Kent when we need to unite behind one candidate early and strong. She will be a spoiler handing the seat to a Democrat or re-electing Jaime. She needs to get over her ego and think about the people she claims to want to represent. We need to keep this seat while removing Jaime.
Attended meeting where all three candidates promised to drop out and support candidate that was endorsed by President Trump. Mr. Yakhour has kept his promise but reading the Columbian today I was surprised that Mrs. St Johns has gone back on her word. We don’t need another politician that says what she thinks you want her to say and then goes back on her word. We have enough of those already. Please Mrs. St. John do the right thing adhere to your pledge or we will end up with Jamie again.
There is no way I would vote for a candidate that goes back on their word on a campaign promise. What does that say if they are elected? And then use the excuse she was brand new to the race. So was Joe Kent. Both met with President Trump, and I’m sure both shared Washington’s problems with him. He chose Joe Kent and so do I. Not a jealous candidate that will dilute the vote. Joe Kent took an Oath a long time ago to defend this country, and that certainly includes Washington.
She is going to be the reason the vote is divided. If we want to upturn JHB, which by all means we should, Heidi needs to do what she said she would do and drop out.
Joe Kent endorsed Washougal mayoral candidate Derik Ford, who was a proven wife-beater (Oregon 2015 restraining order + a contempt of court conviction) and committed the act again this year in Washougal (and already violated that restraining order). Also other issues with the guy, and all of this info (not 2021 DV) was public knowledge and in the news when Kent endorsed Ford and shared a stage with him. Kent does not have the good judgement he would need for the job, nor does he have any experience. Apparently he endorses wife beating…..
A restraining order is not a conviction so Ford is not a “proven wife-beater.” This story is about St. John going back on her commitment to support whoever Trump endorsed.
mmm…a politician who breaks promises, sounds like a true GOP stalwart.
Where are the Democrats!! I will not vote for anybody that follows Trump. So Kent & St. John are out. Either leaving spot blank or voting JHB cause she is against Trump
Those who support Kent don’t understand that Heidi St John had no idea that Kent had just recently become a Republican. Kent supports families getting $10,000 per child tax credit. That is a Socialist, Bernie Sanders, idea. The USA has already has had the value of the dollar diminish in the last year and a half with President Biden’s massive spending. Heidi had no idea that Kent was a brand new Republican. He misrepresented himself to her and the crowd of people at the event where the Trump endorsement was first mentioned. I have video of Kent saying he is a Republican and has always voted Republican. Heidi has reason to change her mind. Every Kent supporter says Heidi lied. No, Joe Kent lied. Heidi learned who he was and is trying to save CD 3 from another headache.
St. John made the commitment to support whoever Trump endorsed. That she did so without knowing publicly available facts, and now wants to renege on her promise, reflects her, not anyone else.
St. John should never have said she would support whoever Trump endorsed if she wasn’t going to abide by that. She didn’t qualify it at the time by saying “only of I don’t find out anything more about him than I know today.” She’s entitled to her opinion, of course, but shouldn’t be blaming what is her own lack of foresight for now backing down from her promise.