Early results have the incumbent Republican leading Democratic challenger Carolyn Long by about 10,000 votes with 71 percent counted
CLARK COUNTY — Not since her first campaign for the 3rd Congressional District, when a 32-year old Jaime Herrera Beutler beat Democrat Denny Heck, has the Republican faced such a stiff challenge.
“I’ve had so many people even in DC say ‘oh you never need to worry about your seat, you won by 20 points,’ and I’ve come back and said ‘this is not that kind of a seat,'” Herrera Beutler told ClarkCountyToday.com on election night. “People here are very independent minded.”
In Herrera Beutler’s last three campaigns, she has won by at least 20 percentage points. Initial results on election night had her challenger, WSU Vancouver Political Science Professor Carolyn Long, with a slight lead among Clark County voters. However, the statewide results showed Herrera Beutler on top, 52.3 to 47.7 percent with 71 percent of the votes counted.
Long, who raised over a million dollars more than the incumbent, put up a spirited fight. The Democrat, who ran primarily over issues of healthcare and campaign finance reform, pulled in over $3.85 million and was a ubiquitous presence in TV ads leading up to election night.
Long did not make herself available to the media on election night, but released a statement pointing at gerrymandering for the recent inability of Democrats to unseat Herrera Beutler.
“Since the district was redrawn following the 2010 census to heavily favor the incumbent, no Democratic challenger to Herrera Beutler has ever topped 40 percent of the vote,” the statement reads.
“I’m incredibly proud of the campaign we ran, and I’ll forever be thankful to every single supporter and volunteer who sacrificed so much over the last eleven months on my behalf,” said Long. “We’re committed to making sure every vote is counted and the voice of every voter in Southwest Washington is heard.”
If Herrera Beutler does go on to win a 5th term, she will face new leadership in Congress. As of Tuesday night, Democrats had reclaimed control of the House by at least 14 seats, while the GOP held onto control of the Senate.
Herrera Beutler says she believes her reputation as a conservative who has been willing to reach across the aisle, and even occasionally vote against her party, will help her in the new balance of power. For now, though, she says the fact that she’s having to wait at least another day to know for sure if she can celebrate means there’s work to be done.
“I want people to know that I don’t take where I’m at for granted, and I’m grateful, and humbled, and optimistic,” she says, before adding that she’s looking forward to actually cooking a meal for her children again, who’ve had to eat take out for the past couple weeks while she worked to get back to Washington DC.
New election counts from Clark County are expected to be released after 6 p.m. on Wednesday.