Democratic wins in buoy party hopes in Washington state

By GENE JOHNSON – Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Democrats won a second key House race in Washington state on Saturday — an open seat in a conservative region that has long eluded the party.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, an auto shop owner who describes herself as an independent-minded Democrat, scored a victory over Joe Kent, a far-right ‘America First’ ex-Green Beret who was endorsed by the former President Donald Trump, in Washington’s southwest 3rd congressional district.

Combined with Rep. Kim Schrier’s re-election to what Democrats feared would be a vulnerable seat, Gluesenkamp Perez’s victory helped the party bolster hopes for maintain a majority in the House.

“I am humbled and humbled by the vote of confidence the people of Southwestern Washington have given me and my campaign,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in a statement.

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The 3rd District, which narrowly voted for Trump in 2020, had been represented for more than a decade by Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler. But she failed to make it past the state’s first two primaries after angering conservatives with her vote to impeach Trump following the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

Schrier survived a challenge from Republican Matt Larkin to win a third term in the 8th District, which stretches from wealthy ex-urbans in east Seattle through the Cascade Mountains to the orchard country of central Washington . Schrier, a pediatrician, in 2018 became the first Democrat to win the seat since it was created in the early 1980s.

“I don’t know which party will control Congress, but it’s races like mine — those on the edge — that tumble one way or another,” Schrier told The Associated Press. . “If more of them are turning in that direction, it can mean we have the majority and we set the agenda.”

By flipping the 3rd District, which Democrats hadn’t held since former Rep. Brian Baird retired in 2010, the party will now have eight of Washington’s 10 congressional seats. Herrera Beutler won 22% of the vote in the primary, and the split of her voters between Gluesenkamp Perez and Kent may have been the deciding factor in the race.

Gluesenkamp Perez — who co-owns an auto shop with her husband just across the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon — said as a small business owner who lives in a rural part of district, she was more in tune with voters than Kent, who repeatedly had to explain his ties to right-wing extremists.

Gluesenkamp Perez supports abortion access and climate change policies, but has also described herself as a gun owner who opposes assault rifle bans, though she supports raising the age of purchase of these weapons to 21 years. Democrat” in Congress, she said.

Kent, a former Green Beret who is a regular on conservative cable and podcasts, called for the impeachment of President Joe Biden and an investigation into the 2020 election. He also spoke out against the COVID-19 shutdowns and vaccination warrants and called for defunding the FBI after the search on Trump’s house in Mar-a-Lago for classified documents.

In the 8th Arrondissement, Schrier highlighted the results she has achieved, including helping secure funds for road projects, rural broadband access and police body cameras. She also pointed out that as the only female doctor in Congress who supports abortion rights, she is a bulwark against all GOP efforts to restrict abortion nationwide after the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

She called Larkin’s opposition to abortion rights disqualifying.

Larkin is a lawyer and former candidate for attorney general in Washington who works for the family business, which makes parts for water pipes. Unlike more extreme Republican candidates, Larkin says Biden was legitimately elected, though he also notes that many people disagree and are frustrated. He hammered Schrier on inflation, gas prices and crime, saying Democrats’ policies have made all three worse.

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