In their second contest for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District seat, Democrat Carolyn Long and Republican incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler have set a record for the most expensive race in the district’s history.
Together, the candidates have raised a total of $7.12 million as of Sept. 30, the last major reporting milestone before Nov. 3. That beats their 2018 total of $6.5 million, which also set a record at the time.
That the Southwest Washington contest is drawing enormous sums of money from local and national donors isn’t unexpected. It’s been eyed by both major parties as a potentially vulnerable seat, after a decade spent as a solid conservative stronghold.
The candidates are nearly even in their fundraising numbers, with an edge to the five-term incumbent. Since announcing her campaign in July 2019, Long has raised a total of $3.47 million; Herrera Beutler raised a total of $3.65 million this cycle.
The latest quarterly report from the Federal Elections Commission shows that both candidates ramped up their fundraising efforts in the third quarter of 2020, with neck-and-neck results — between July and September, Long raised $1.24 million and Herrera Beutler brought in $1.13 million.
“Another impressive fundraising quarter continues to show the incredible grassroots support for Carolyn Long in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District,” Abby Olmstead, Long’s campaign manager, said in a press release. She also touted that 72 percent of donations came from people who live within the district.
Long repeated in the press release her longtime pledge to refuse any donations from corporate political action committees.
“Unlike my opponent, I will never take a dime of corporate PAC money. And the people of Southwest Washington will never have to wait in line behind a corporate lobbyist to talk to me,” Long said.
As they headed into October, the incumbent congresswoman’s cash-on-hand trounced that of Long. Herrera Beutler is still sitting on $1.74 million; Long is down to $257,477.
Both Long and Herrera Beutler are dropping major sums of money this election cycle. That’s especially true of Long, who’s spent $3.3 million total and $2.51 million in the third quarter of 2020 alone. Herrera Beutler has spent a total of $2.26 million (and $1.18 million in Q3).
Closely watched rematch
Long’s 14-month fundraising marathon is a contrast to her 2018 campaign when she brought in almost all of her dollars in the final few months leading up to Election Day.
This time around, she announced her campaign much earlier, allowing her to amass a war chest over more than a year and a half. Long also started her 2020 campaign with a leg-up in the form of name recognition — in 2018, she lost to Herrera Beutler by 5 percentage points, the closest race of the Republican’s career.
The unexpectedly competitive contest drew the attention of local voters and national pundits. Both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have flagged Washington’s 3rd Congressional District seat as among the most vulnerable in the country.
Even with all the attention, the momentum of Long’s campaign didn’t translate into electoral success in the August primary. Though Long sailed through the election as expected, Herrera Beutler outpolled the Democrat by 16.5 percentage points, or around 40,000 ballots.
An internal poll from Long’s campaign shows her trailing Herrera Beutler by 2 percentage points in the general election, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent. The poll surveyed 400 likely voters within the district, which encompasses Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Skamania and Klickitat counties and part of Thurston County.