First quarter campaign finance reports provide insight in Third Congressional District race

Republican challengers battle to raise the funds needed to race against the six-time Congresswoman

The 2022 primary election is still about 16 months away, but the race among candidates in Washington’s Third Congressional District to establish a campaign war chest is well underway.

Republican candidates for the Third Congressional District recently participated in a candidate forum in Battle Ground. Shown here (left to right) are candidates Joe Kent, Heidi St. John and Wadi Yakhour. Photo by Mike Schultz
Republican candidates for the Third Congressional District recently participated in a candidate forum in Battle Ground. Shown here (left to right) are candidates Joe Kent, Heidi St. John and Wadi Yakhour. Photo by Mike Schultz

Not surprisingly, six-term Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler leads the way among Republicans. In the first quarterly filing to the Federal Election Commission on March 31, Herrera Beutler raised more $637,000 in campaign contributions. 

Battle Ground resident Heidi St. John had the most campaign contributions among the three Republican challengers for the seat with more than $130,000. Yacolt resident Joe Kent has raised over $64,000 and Vancouver resident Wadi Yakhour stated a little more than $9,500 in contributions. 

No Democratic challenger for the seat has emerged, although the Republicans all believe the Democrats will invest heavily in winning the seat, just as they have done in the last two election cycles. For example, Herrera Beutler spent almost $4.6 million in her 2020 campaign after spending just over $3 million in 2018. In each of the Congresswoman’s first four campaigns, Herrera Beutler spent less than $2 million. 

“The Democrat Congressional Committee and Washington State Democrats have made Southwest Washington a top target and spent millions trying to capture it,’’ said Parker Truax, spokesperson for the Herrera Beutler campaign.

Here’s a look at the campaign finances of all four Republican candidates in the Third Congressional District race:

Jaime Herrera Beutler

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler

In addition to a war chest, Truax believes that the candidate who wins the next race for the Third Congressional District seat will need more than just money.

“It will take more than money to keep this seat in Republican hands,’’ he said. “It will take someone who can appeal to a majority coalition, something Jaime has proven able to do in good election cycles and challenging ones. Southwest Washington is an independent region that values leaders like Jaime who are effective legislators and also willing to stand up to political pressure to do what’s right for our community and this country.’’

Truax is confident that Herrera Beutler is a proven fundraiser, which he says was demonstrated in her 13-point win in the last election (over Democrat challenger Carolyn Long).

“We’re off to a great start this campaign, fundraising-wise, and have no plans to take our foot off the gas for a second,’’ Truax said. 

Heidi St. John

Heidi St. John
Heidi St. John

St. John’s camp believes it is significant that she has outraised the other challengers. St. John announced her candidacy in late February to unseat Herrera Beutler, who St. John believes is facing serious backlash across the district following her decision to vote to impeach President Trump. 

“I am honored and deeply humbled by the outpouring of financial support from all over Southwest Washington,” St. John said. “It’s clear that residents of this district are joining with me in this fight to save our country.” 

St. John’s average donation is $116, which she believes underscores the vast amount of citizens who are opening their wallets to support her campaign. 

“Far-left Democrats are working double time to enact their socialist agenda,’’ St. John said. “They want to take away our guns, are opening our borders, want to further erode our public education system, implement government-run health care and job-killing energy mandates, and they want to undermine election integrity. We, the people, must stop them by electing courageous conservatives who will fight back. It’s time for us to defend the values that made this nation great.” 

Joe Kent

Joe Kent
Joe Kent

Kent raised some eyebrows at a recent candidate forum when he announced that he had loaned $200,000 of his own money to his campaign. So, in addition to the $64,376 that he has raised, minus his expenditures, he has about $250,000 cash on hand.

“We have raised a little over a quarter of a million dollars, so I think we’ve got a pretty strong start,’’ Kent said. “I gave the campaign a loan. My goal would be that I would be able to pay myself back at some point when I win. But, if I don’t, it’s a gamble and I may lose it all. The best I can do is put my money where my mouth is. This isn’t a career, it isn’t a hobby. I’m committing everything I have to it.’’

Kent also cautioned voters not to misinterpret campaign war chests.

“I think establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans are pretty much running a scam on the donors, establishment Republicans especially,’’ Kent said. “Jaime will take the establishment money and then she will go vote just like Carolyn Long. Jaime is already sitting on a pretty big war chest from the last election. She also has establishment money, so there’s big money behind keeping establishment Republicans in office.’’

Wadi Yakhour 

Wadi Yakhour
Wadi Yakhour

In addition to the $9,508 he has raised in contributions, Yakhour has also contributed $25,000 of his own money to his campaign.

“Fundraising will be very critical over the summer, however, with a year and a half until the primary, my goal was never to have the biggest numbers within the first reporting period,’’ Yakhour said. “The more money a candidate initially raises, the more they’re expected to continue to raise each following month.  I’m not going to put myself into that crunch this early on.’’

Yakhour isn’t convinced that the biggest war chest wins the election. 

“What we’ve learned from candidates in the past, including President Trump, is that you don’t have to raise the most money to win an election,’’ he said. “I’ve kept my expenses low and have raised a comfortable amount that allows me to move on to the next phase of the campaign.  As I explore new and innovative strategies to use in my campaigning and fundraising efforts, I still have a year to build the base and gain the resources that are needed to win this primary and I’m confident that we’ll get there.”

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