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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

3rd District candidates spar along party lines

Dingethal challenges incumbent Herrera Beutler

By Lauren Dake, Columbian Political Writer
Published: October 22, 2014, 5:00pm
3 Photos
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, faces a challenge from Bob Dingethal, D-Ridgefield, in the 3rd Congressional District race Nov.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, faces a challenge from Bob Dingethal, D-Ridgefield, in the 3rd Congressional District race Nov. 4. Photo Gallery

Name: Jaime Herrera Beutler

Age: 35.

City: Camas.

Occupation: Congresswoman.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Endorsements include: Her campaign office wrote in an email, the Congresswoman “has been humbled to have the support of Republicans, Democrats and Independents from across Southwest Washington in her campaign for congress, and those are the endorsements that matter the most on Election Day. There have just been too many to collect.”

Ending cash on hand: $877,440

Campaign website: www.votejaime.com

Name: Bob Dingethal

Age: 58.

City: Vancouver.

Occupation: On leave from the Gifford Pinchot Task Force.

Party affiliation: Democratic.

Endorsements include: Washington Federation of Teachers; Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt; Former Congressman Brian Baird; Washington State Labor Council; Southwest Washington Central Labor Council.

Ending cash on hand: $30,510

Campaign website: www.bobdingethal.com

At a recent luncheon where U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, and her Democratic challenger Bob Dingethal faced off, the two repeated key talking points their parties have emphasized across the country.

Herrera Beutler spoke of trying to slash federal spending. Dingethal pointed to the dangers of not cutting “judiciously” and pointed to the controversy swirling around the Center for Disease Control’s budget in wake of the Ebola outbreak.

They sparred over health care and the minimum wage.

After the 3rd Congressional District was redrawn in 2011, Republicans have relative political security in the district that encompasses conservative Clark County and rural Southwest Washington.

Herrera Beutler captured 47 percent of the vote in the primary election. About 40 percent of the electorate cast their ballot for Dingethal, with Republican Michael Delavar receiving 12 percent.

Ballots went out this week and the election is Nov. 4.

The challenger

Herrera Beutler’s war chest is much larger than Dingethal’s, and her name is a familiar one to most in the district.

But, Dingethal said, “we all believe we have a better answer, or we wouldn’t do this in the first place.”

Dingethal is also hoping that there are enough people dissatisfied with the “do-nothing Congress” to give him a shot at the office.

If elected, Dingethal said, he would work to bolster the middle class. He is unapologetic of his support for public unions and is closely aligned with the Democratic Party’s core values on women’s right to choose and the environment. He is a proponent of stricter gun laws.

From the start of his campaign kickoff, Dingethal said he would hold open and frequent town hall meetings.

It’s one of the more frequent criticisms launched at the congresswoman, who no longer holds traditional town hall meetings; she instead hosts community coffees.

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Dingethal recently said, “even Republicans have said access is not there anymore.”

Herrera Beutler switched to community coffees after a contentious town hall in 2011, where protesters showed up from Planned Parenthood and others grilled the congresswoman on a variety of issues, including her vote to cut National Public Radio’s funding. Herrera Beutler said community coffees offer an opportunity for a more civil discourse.

She argues she has taken a “vigorous approach” to holding the coffees in an environment where her constituents don’t feel disenfranchised. People of all political stripes are invited, her office said.

Dingethal worked in telecommunications before going back to school and earning a master’s degree in public affairs. He later worked for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell as her outreach director and is currently on leave from his position as executive director of the Gifford Pinchot Task Force.

Dingethal blasted Herrera Beutler for having what he said is a career politician’s mind-set. She makes decisions based on what’s best for her party and future opportunities in Washington, D.C., he said at a campaign event.

Name: Jaime Herrera Beutler

Age: 35.

City: Camas.

Occupation: Congresswoman.

Party affiliation: Republican.

Endorsements include: Her campaign office wrote in an email, the Congresswoman "has been humbled to have the support of Republicans, Democrats and Independents from across Southwest Washington in her campaign for congress, and those are the endorsements that matter the most on Election Day. There have just been too many to collect."

Ending cash on hand: $877,440

Campaign website: <a href="http://www.votejaime.com">www.votejaime.com</a>

Name: Bob Dingethal

Age: 58.

City: Vancouver.

Occupation: On leave from the Gifford Pinchot Task Force.

Party affiliation: Democratic.

Endorsements include: Washington Federation of Teachers; Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt; Former Congressman Brian Baird; Washington State Labor Council; Southwest Washington Central Labor Council.

Ending cash on hand: $30,510

Campaign website: <a href="http://www.bobdingethal.com">www.bobdingethal.com</a>

“We need people who work for the district,” Dingethal said.

The incumbent

Two of Herrera Beutler’s key campaign issues in her first bid for office were decreasing Southwest Washington’s unemployment rate and blocking the Affordable Care Act. She’s added more to the list, but those remain key components of her campaign platform as she vies for her third term.

“Unfortunately, the ACA has resulted in more broken promises and higher costs than anything else,” Herrera Beutler wrote in an email.

“By allowing small businesses to band together and purchase insurance across state lines, expanding the use of Health Savings Accounts, and implementing insurance company-funded plans for people with pre-existing conditions, we could do much more to improve healthcare for every single American than the ACA has done,” she wrote.

Herrera Beutler continues to call for slashing salaries for Congress members, cutting regulations and reducing the role of government.

Her third term, if re-elected, could be telling. In her second term, her child Abigail was born premature and without kidneys. Herrera Beutler took about six months off to be with her daughter. This term would not be marked by the birth of her child or by being a freshman lawmaker.

Herrera Beutler recently introduced a bill that would create a nationwide network of providers to help medically complex children who are on Medicaid, the first hint that she could let her personal experience drive a policy agenda.

The Congresswoman said she will continue to ensure the region “gets its fair share of federal transportation funding” once a “cost-effective, affordable plan” is presented to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge.

Herrera Beutler defeated Democrat Denny Heck for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2010 when she was 31 years old.

Previously, she worked as a senior legislative aide for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Colville, before being appointed to fill the 18th Legislative District seat in Nov. 2007.

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Columbian Political Writer