Congressional candidates speak at Clark County Republican Women quarterly dinner

Republican candidates Joe Kent and Heidi St. John each address sold out crowd at Saturday event

A sold out gathering at the quarterly dinner of the Clark County Republican Women held Saturday night expected to hear from one of three announced candidates for the Third Congressional District seat in the US House of Representatives. Before the night was over, those in attendance got to hear from two of the candidates instead of one.

Republican Heidi St. John was scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the event, which was held at Groove Nation in Vancouver. After a motion was made for the organization to endorse St. John in the race for Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s seat, candidate Joe Kent, who was also in attendance, was also given the opportunity to address those in attendance. 

Members of the Clark County Republican Women voted to endorse candidate Heidi St. John in the race for the Third Congressional District. Photo by Mike Schultz
Members of the Clark County Republican Women voted to endorse candidate Heidi St. John in the race for the Third Congressional District. Photo by Mike Schultz

St. John and Kent each delivered passionate speeches with a very similar theme — returning Southwest Washington’s Third Congressional District to the conservative side of the Republican party and out of the hands of Herrera Beutler, who angered many of those in attendance when she was one of 10 Republicans to cast a vote to impeach President Donald Trump in January.

“I hope that when I get down off the stage, you’re going to be fired up and excited because I am excited about what is happening in Clark County,’’ St. John said. “I think that what is happening here is going to be reflected in what’s going to happen in 2022. And I believe we’re going to take back the house in 2022.

“We have an opportunity to elect people who want to be intimately involved in the business of representing the constituents of Washington state’s Third Congressional District,’’ said St. John, a Battle Ground resident. “And I want to be intimately involved. I want to hear what you’re facing in your communities.’’

Kent said the results of November’s presidential election was the first indicator that he needed to do something to address his frustrations with what was going on in the country and in Southwest Washington.

“I knew then I wanted to do something,’’ Kent said. “I was furious. I just didn’t know what that was until the woman (Herrera Beutler) that I voted for, that I really hope someday to meet and tell her that she stabbed me in the back and she stabbed all of you in the back when she cast that vote to impeach Trump.

“She painted an X on this district,’’ Kent said. “This district is right in between two failed liberal cities that are run by absolute activists, buffoons, and I say buffoons. But actually, they’re not buffoons, they’re actually pretty smart. They’re utilizing the full scope of every instrument of power from the media to tech, to cram that narrative down our kids’ throats and down our throats, and they have the governors on their sides as well. So, when Representative Buetler cast her vote, she put open season on the Third District. The radical left knows that we can be taken advantage of. So I knew then I had to do something.’’

Ironically, both Kent and St. John used the same word to describe the mentality that they believe residents of the Third District should adopt.

“The left is coming at us with absolutely everything and we know it,’’ Kent said. “So, we have to start putting warriors back into Washington DC, people who respect the right of people to have their voices represented, who respect our Constitution but have enough enough healthy disdain for the federal government to go in there and tell them that we see through their lies and we’re here to restore the people’s voice.’’

“I don’t know about you, but I want to get excited about somebody,’’ St. John said, referring to political candidates. “I want to get excited again. We must share a commitment to preserving and defending the individual liberties that God has given us at all costs. And that means we’ve got to become warriors. I’ve been telling parents for a long time, one of my favorite passages of Scripture comes out of Psalm 127. It says that our children have been given to us like arrows in the hands of a warrior.’’

Heidi St. John

St. John is a successful author and well-known national speaker on family and education issues. She has been a strong champion for individual rights and parental rights. Four generations of St Johns have lived in Washington’s Third Congressional District. St. John and her husband Jay have been married for 32 years, making their home and raising their seven children in Southwest Washington since 1999. Their grandchildren are also being raised here.

Republican Congressional candidate Heidi St. John
Republican Congressional candidate Heidi St. John

“I’m excited because I believe that the nation’s best days are ahead of it,’’ St. John said. “And I think that we should not give up. We should never ever, ever give up and what I’ve been watching happening as I travel around the nation speaking to audiences, as few as 10 and as many as 10,000. What I’m finding is there’s a lot of discouragement right now among conservatives and a lot of conservatives are wondering if we’re ever going to get our footing back. And I’m here to tell you that we are going to get our footing back again. I’m going to encourage you tonight to get off the bench and onto the battlefield. This has been my heart’s cry for a long time.

“One of the things that I keep getting asked over and over again, is what I plan to do differently,’’ St. John said. “If I get elected, and I’m honored to serve as your Congresswoman, one of the first things that we plan to do is be here, often. The voice of the people is very unique in the United States in that we have an opportunity to represent the people in our district. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t felt represented for a very long time.’’

St. John vowed to fight what she believes is a move by Democrats toward socialism in this country.

“I’ve noticed many confused, young conservatives are trying to show how woke they are. You guys, we’re so woke we’re sleeping,’’ St. John said. “They’re denouncing capitalism and playing footsie with socialism. And in the United States, socialism is an idea that must not be allowed to gain any further ground. It is a danger to our nation. Who will stand against it. Will you stand against it with me? We are not and we will never be a socialist nation.’’

St. John and her husband Jay own and operate the Firmly Planted Family Homeschool Resource Center in Vancouver. She said that in the past year, the center has grown from 400 students to 1,237.

“It’s called indoctrination,’’ said St. John, referring to what is going on in public education. “The schools are no longer teaching our children how to think. Instead, they’re teaching them what to think. 

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m angry,’’ she said. “I’m angry at what they’re doing in our schools.

“Our children deserve better than this,’’ St. John said. “Parents deserve better than this. If the school is underperforming, if the school is teaching your children about socialism, if they’re teaching your children to hate the United States or the 1619 project, and turn them into racist or critical race theory, you should be able to walk into that school and say ‘thank you very much we’re done.’ And when you take your child out, the money goes with them.’’

St. John also vowed to defend what she termed as attacks on the First and Second Amendments. 

“Congress cannot prohibit free speech,’’ she said. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but free speech is under attack in this nation right now. And we must not stand for it. 

“The Second Amendment says that Congress cannot infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms,’’ she added. “That means that when they tell you they want to pass a common sense gun law, what they’re really saying is they’re hoping you don’t have enough sense to recognize what they’re really trying to do.’’

St. John said she wanted to “reignite the flame of patriotism in the United States.’’

“The left controls the language in our nation and control of the language is control of thought,’’ she said. “We must take back the narrative. Have you noticed that they’re hijacking our language? Have you noticed that you’ve got to be woke if you want to be heard? This is wrong. I’m running to take back the narrative from a stolen and hijacked terminology to honesty, integrity, grace and grit. I am hoping that patriotism becomes the passion of the people in Washington state’s Third Congressional District once more. We are a free people. We are free. We are free to share our thoughts. We are free to say no, no, no, you can’t teach that to my children.

“It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams,’’ she said. “We are not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. And so with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew again our determination, our courage and our strength and let us renew our faith and our hope. America is an idea that we can all be proud of.’’

To view the entire video of Heidi St. John’s speech, click here: 

Joe Kent

Kent wasn’t scheduled to speak to those in attendance Saturday but he was eager to do so when offered the opportunity.

“Well, this got exciting,’’ said Kent, a resident of Yacolt.

Republican Congressional candidate Joe Kent
Republican Congressional candidate Joe Kent

Kent shared his story. He was born in Sweet Home, Oregon, moved to Portland as a youngster before enlisting in the US Army as an infantry man at the age of 18. He earned his way into the Second Ranger Battalion and then eventually into Special Forces. After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, Kent served in Special Operations.

“So serving in combat, for me, was the greatest experience and the most formative experience in my life,’’ Kent said. “I learned a lot of great things. And I learned mostly that when you see danger, and you see a clear threat to your way of life and what you want to protect, you can’t hesitate, you just have to go right for it. And you have to charge that you can’t wait for the perfect time, the perfect plan, the perfect circumstances. Because if you don’t, if you wait, if you hesitate, that danger will come back and get you when you least expect it. I also learned how to build teams in combat, I learned how to harness the individual talents that many incredible people who are willing to go forward had and put them towards a common objective. The other thing I learned in combat is that our government, the people that we are supposed to trust, they don’t have our best interests in mind.

“I’ve always been a conservative. I’ve always been a Republican, I believe in our foundation values of the Republican Party,’’ Kent said. “But, by the end of the Bush administration, I was done with Republicans. And then Obama came along, and that made me even more furious. And then I saw how the Republicans just rolled over and backstabbed the Tea Party. 

“So, come 2016, I didn’t know what I was gonna do politically,’’ Kent said. “I was still in the military. I was deployed overseas under Obama, which meant we were deployed and we could be killed, but we really couldn’t fight back. And then Donald Trump came onto the scene, and he punched through the establishment. And the first thing he did is he went after the Republicans. And he told all of us what we already knew, that the Republicans had gotten it wrong. And then he went after the Democrats and pointed out all their many flaws and how they were going after us on every level, how they were bringing in immigration because they wanted to replace American workers, while the big corporations shift our jobs overseas so China could get more powerful while the Republicans and Democrats did nothing about it. 

“So after Trump won, I got the privilege of going to combat under him three more times,’’ Kent said. “It was a night and day difference. He enabled our men and women on the ground to crush the enemy. And we did. President Trump also did what no other president in my lifetime has done. He decisively used military power, stated the military objective, we went out, we accomplished it. And then he tried to get us out because that’s what he promised to do. And that was the right thing to do for the American people.’’

Kent said he wanted to continue to serve after he retired from the military in 2018 so he transitioned into a career in the intelligence community.

“I retired Friday and then sworn in at the CIA on Monday,’’ he said. “It was the greatest honor of my life to go out and fight for this country and I wanted to continue that job. I continued to serve in that capacity until about two years ago, when my world got turned upside down.

“My wife Shannon Kent, who was a special operator, she came from the same ilk as me, was killed fighting ISIS in Syria. Shannon was killed.,’’ Kent said. “About a month after President Trump tried to get us out of Syria, I got the opportunity to meet President Trump and tell him how I felt about his policies and how he was trying to bring the will of the American people back to this country and the voice of the American people back to DC. And foreign policy wise, he was spot on.

“President Trump was gracious enough to listen to me and provide me with a way to speak with him and his administration,’’ Kent said. “So right after Shannon was killed, we all saw what happened next, the establishment went after President Trump, they turned on him.’’

Kent said it was never his intention to run for elected office, until Herrera Beutler voted to impeach Trump.

“I never wanted to run for office and never wanted to be a politician,’’ he said. “But I’ve never been able to ask somebody else to go fight for me. So I’m asking to go forward again, and to fight for you. And to push back against all this to go to Congress, and to let Washington, DC know that I know them. I know how the federal government works. I know the intelligence community works. And I see through them. And, I’m there to represent all of you and to bring your voices back to Washington, DC.’’

To view the entire video of Joe Kent’s speech, click here:

CCRW endorsement

The CCRW members in attendance approved the endorsement of Heidi St. John in the Third Congressional District race. Clark County Today will continue to cover each of the candidates in the race going forward.