Kent had previously received the endorsement of the Clark County Republican Party
Ken Vance, editor
Clark County Today
The Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) Central Committee has endorsed candidate Joe Kent in his Third Congressional District campaign. Kent was previously endorsed by the Clark County Republican Party (CCRP) as the preferred candidate to challenge incumbent Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in the 2024 general election.
The latest endorsement took place this past weekend at the Washington State Republican Party quarterly meeting in Olympia. Kent received 75 percent approval in the vote of the county chairs, committee men and women from the state’s 39 counties. He needed just a simple majority to receive the endorsement from the WSRP.
Kent had also been previously endorsed by the precinct committee officers (PCOs) of five other Republican bodies in the counties that make up the Third Congressional District. Of the counties fully in the Third Congressional District (Thurston County is partially in the district), only the Pacific County Republican Party has yet to endorse Kent, who lost to Perez by less than 1 percent of the vote in the 2022 general election.
Prior to the vote for the early endorsement, a vote was needed to suspend the meeting rules because the effort to have the WSRP endorse Kent was not on the convention agenda. That vote was taken and the two-thirds majority was exceeded, allowing the early endorsement debate and vote. The agenda did include the consideration of new convention endorsement rules later in the meeting. After the vote to endorse Kent was taken, the new convention endorsement rules were approved for future candidates seeking endorsement from the WSRP moving forward.
According to CCRP Chairman Matt Bumala, “early endorsement allows Joe many resources from the state, opens up resources and help on a national level, and gives him financial aid that would otherwise have to be raised through individual donations since Joe doesn’t take PAC money and would give him the runway time to effectively beat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who is proving to be far from a moderate and more of an extreme leftist.’’
Bumala disputed the narrative that the early endorsement effort is a top-down strategy. He points out that the effort has been initiated by the PCOs from the county parties in the Third Congressional District. Furthermore, Bumala believes that was also exemplified by the vote of the central committee by the WSRP.
“The narrative that’s being spun is one that claims people are being bullied, that the grassroots are being ignored, that this is ‘top-down leadership,’’’ Bumala said. “The irony is that it’s literally the opposite of all those things. PCOs have spoken and requested this. This is coming from the bottom up. Nobody is being bullied or manipulated. The fact is, Joe is very popular for good reason. Voters are disappointed with our party and how we didn’t get him across the finish line. Their frustration isn’t just that he lost, it’s that our party got in our own way. That’s being fixed now.’’
Camas City Council Member Leslie Lewallen has also filed in the Third Congressional District race. Despite being previously recognized as a candidate in her campaign for a seat on the Camas City Council, the CCRP declined to recognize Lewallen in the Third Congressional District race.
“Leslie and anyone else is welcome to run for Congress,’’ Bumala said. “It just won’t be with the backing of the CD3 counties or the state.’’
Bumala left the weekend convention with optimism for the direction of the WSRP.
“The WSRP has taken a true conservative turn and I’m encouraged by that,’’ Bumala said. “It’s definitely changing in a good way.’’
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