Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler will foe Carolyn Long as she attempts to win a fifth term in Washington DC
CLARK COUNTY — New race, same contestants.
That’s been pretty much a foregone conclusion since Carolyn Long announced in July of last year that she would be trying again to unseat Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.
Long, a political science professor at Washington State University Vancouver, came within 4.5 percentage points of beating the incumbent Republican after a hotly contested race in 2018.
After the initial returns from Tuesday’s primary election, Long trailed Herrera Beutler 48.9 to 47.35 percent, for a difference of nearly 1,300 ballots in Clark County.
District-wide, Herrera Beutler’s lead is much larger, with a 13.4 percent cushion, based on initial returns.
Three other candidates, Independent Martin Hash and Democrats Davy Ray and Devin Gray, pulled in just under 4 percent of the vote.
“I am truly very humbled,” Herrera Beutler told CVTV.org on election night, “and I’m energized … You never take any election for granted.”
The primary results were closer in 2018, when Long finished just 7 percentage points behind the fourth-term Republican, but Long said she’s not putting much stock in the primary, especially in such an exceptional election season.
“I see this as the first act in the play,” Long told CVTV. “It’s a scrimmage before the big game. And it shows us that we’ve got some work to do in some parts of the district to make sure that everybody hears our message.”
The race is expected to be among the most expensive in the state, possibly in the country.
The two candidates combined to spend nearly $7 million dollars in 2018. As of this week, Herrera Beutler’s campaign is reporting $1.95 million in cash reserves, with Long’s camp reporting just under $1.6 million on hand.
“I have never taken any election for granted,” Herrera Beutler said. “To see the returns right now, to me, is an affirmation that I’m working on the right issues and hitting the sweet spot that folks recognize my whole goal is to serve the people in this region. And right now it looks like they’re telling me I’m on track.”
Long said she’s hopeful that having a chance to focus on getting her message out ahead of the November general election will convince voters in the 3rd District that it’s time for a change.
“We’re going to continue to be as present, accountable and committed to reaching every Southwest Washingtonian,” Long said, “to talk about our message about affordable access to health care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and smart investment in our infrastructure.”
With the ongoing debate in Washington, DC over a second stimulus package and the extension of Federal unemployment benefits, Herrera Beutler said she hasn’t had time for a normal campaign as of yet.
“I cancelled my kickoff, and I literally stopped doing political style events,” she said. “I put my entire focus on meeting the needs of people in this region, making sure small businesses have a lifeline, making sure that workers have the relief that they need.”
Asked how she’s handling the pandemic, Herrera Beutler didn’t miss the chance to take a slight jab at her opponent.
“When it’s smooth sailing, anybody can do this,” she said of her position as an elected official. “2020 has felt like the most unhinged year we’ve had in a long time. So, I actually am energized.”
Asked how she would address the economic hardships introduced by the pandemic, Long said Southwest Washington has been hit “differently,” compared to other parts of the state or the country.
“If you are fortunate enough to to replace your meetings with Zoom or you can do things online, you’ve not been affected,” she said. “But many people work with their hands, or cannot do their tasks electronically. So it’s recognizing that any economic recovery has to touch all people in the district and be tailored to the wide diversity of folks who work in different types of jobs.”
The race is sure to be one watched closely across much of the country, as Democrats hope to increase their majority in the US House of Representatives, while Republicans hope to hold onto a seat that has been seen as increasingly vulnerable in recent years.