State Rep. Jaime Herrera’s impressive campaign kickoff in Vancouver Wednesday has Republicans upbeat about a resurgence this year, especially in the pivotal 3rd Congressional District race.
Herrera packed the Hilton Vancouver Washington ballroom Wednesday for a fundraising breakfast that drew about 375 attendees willing to pay $35 apiece for scrambled eggs, bacon and a rousing stump speech from the Republican congressional candidate.
State Sen. Joe Zarelli, former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Herrera’s former boss, were all on hand to attest to Herrera’s qualifications for the 3rd District seat.
“She’ll go there carrying the banner of the Republican Party, but what is more important is that she will stay true to the party’s principles,” Zarelli said.
“The road to a Republican congressional majority runs through the 3rd Congressional District,” McMorris Rodgers declared. Herrera, of Camas, worked in the 5th District congresswoman’s Washington, D.C., office for three years before coming home to Clark County in 2007 to run for appointment to an open 18th Legislative District seat.
Clark County GOP Chairman Ryan Hart said Thursday he was pumped by the turnout for Herrera’s fundraiser because it shows “there is certainly a lot of buzz and a lot of excitement in Clark County” in the run-up to the state Republican Party Convention in Vancouver June 10-12.
Washington Democrats will hold their state convention in Vancouver two weeks later, June 25-26.
“We’ve got the convention next week, and we had a very well-attended campaign kickoff for a Republican candidate yesterday,” Hart said. “I don’t know if any Democratic candidate here locally has drawn that kind of crowd and that kind of support.”
“The 3rd Congressional District is going to be at the front line of the political battlefield this year,” he said. “This is where the action is.”
At Wednesday’s fundraiser, Gorton, who has been advising Herrera on national defense and national security issues, predicted that whoever is elected to the open 3rd District seat is likely to be there a while.
“This is more than a race for one single-year term,” Gorton said. Washington is likely to gain a 10th congressional seat in upcoming redistricting, he said, and when the lines are redrawn, “inevitably incumbents will be favored.”
In her speech at the Hilton, Herrera positioned herself as part of a 2010 class of younger Republican candidates for Congress who will work to curb the federal government’s “addiction to spending” but also offer free-market solutions on health care and economic development.
“I do believe that the American dream, which is to pass on a better life to our children, is in danger,” she said.
Her biggest fundraiser yet came one day after state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, withdrew from the race and threw his support to Democrat Denny Heck.
David Castillo, the other leading Republican in the race, took the opportunity to compliment Pridemore and aim not-so-subtle barbs at both Heck and Herrera.
“While we may have differed on most things political, I admire (Pridemore’s) conviction to stand for what he believes is right and not use political-speak to hide his true positions on issues of importance to the voters in the 3rd District,” he said in a statement.
“While this effectively clears the Democratic field, voters opposed to bigger government and out-of-control spending led by Nancy Pelosi will have to decide who is most qualified to make that argument against Denny Heck,” Castillo said. “If Republicans hope to prevail in November, we must challenge Heck with a candidate of substantive experience, unbending values, and a commitment to the free market conservatism that has sustained this country.”
Castillo said he is the only Republican running who meets those criteria, and he looks forward to bringing his experience and background to bear on the debate.