Retired Green Beret Joe Kent defeated Republican Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in a primary challenge stemming from her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
With 92% of ballots counted, Democrat Marie Glusenkamp Perez received 31% support, Kent received 22.8% support, and Herrera Beutler received 22.3 %. Kent, Herrera Beutler’s chief GOP challenger, raised $2.25 million and was endorsed by Trump. Several election analysts called the race on Monday night. Washington’s universal vote-by-mail rules allow voters to submit ballots up through election day, meaning that the results of races are not often immediately clear. (RELATED: Pro-Impeachment Rep. Dan Newhouse Skates Past Trump-Endorsed Primary Challenge)
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) August 9, 2022
Herrera Beutler, in her sixth-term representing the state’s 3rd Congressional District, received significant financial support from House GOP leadership. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s joint fundraising committee Take Back the House 2022 gave the Herrera Beutler campaign nearly $167,000, and campaign chief Tom Emmer reportedly attended a fundraising event for the embattled incumbent. Herrera Beutler also received about $157,000 from joint fundraising committees associated with the 501(c)4 organization Winning for Women.
Polls conducted by The Trafalgar Group consistently showed Herrera Beutler and Kent as the two top candidates in the race, with Perez and another Democrat who dropped out in third and fourth place respectively.
During Trump’s second impeachment trial, Herrera Beutler released a statement alleging that the president called Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as members sheltered from rioters. When McCarthy asked Trump to call off the rioters, Herrera Beutler alleged, Trump said that the rioters were “more upset about the election than you are.”
Kent aligned his campaign around Herrera Beutler’s impeachment vote, as well as claims about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. He has also suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation played a role in instigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In addition, Kent has asserted that U.S. support for Ukraine is a distraction from domestic policy failures and that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war aims are “very reasonable” and “a decent starting point.”
Heidi St. John, who received the third-most votes of any Republican in the race, ran a series of attack ads highlighting Kent’s support for Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. Kent responded to the criticism by alternately saying that populist Republicans and Democrats share “common ground,” and that his vote was “all strategy” to help Trump face a weaker opponent.