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Oct. 1, 2022

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In Our View: Herrera Beutler graceful in face of defeat

The Columbian
Published:

The ouster of Jaime Herrera Beutler as our congressional representative brings about something increasingly rare in modern politics: A gracious farewell.

Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, on Tuesday conceded her race in the Aug. 2 primary. With few votes remaining to be counted, she stood in third place behind Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Republican Joe Kent, who will advance to the November general election.

We congratulate the remaining candidates — and all those who run for public office. We also look forward to a robust campaign and will spend much time informing the public about the candidates and the issues. But for now there is cause for reflection on Herrera Beutler’s service and on her concession. She has spent six two-year terms in Washington, D.C., and will remain in office until the end of the 117th Congress on Jan. 3.

“Thank you, Southwest Washington, for entrusting me six times with the privilege of representing you in Congress,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement. “Ever since I was first elected to this seat, I have done my very best to serve my home region and our country. Though my campaign came up short this time, I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together for the place where I was raised and still call home.”

She mentioned efforts to help people find good jobs here, boost the health of rivers and fisheries, and focus on land management. She also wrote: “I’m incredibly proud of getting the ACE Kids Act signed into law that helps more low-income kids get life-saving specialty medical care in this country, as well as legislation to tackle the maternal mortality crisis plaguing moms in America.”

While The Columbian’s Editorial Board sometimes disagreed with Herrera Beutler on policy issues, she deserves credit for focusing on items of particular importance to our region. She largely avoided the culture wars that often drive national political discussions and kept her attention on Southwest Washington and issues that resonate here.

While Herrera Beutler typically avoided the national spotlight, that spotlight found her when she was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for President Donald Trump’s second impeachment. The vote followed the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, when Trump fueled an insurrection and then spent hours doing nothing to defuse it.

“I’m proud that I always told the truth, stuck to my principles, and did what I knew to be best for our country,” Herrera Beutler said.

She did that again in conceding a close election, at a time when denying election results and fabricating tales of election fraud have become a badge of honor for many Republicans. Kent claims the 2020 election of Joe Biden as president was fraudulent — a claim that has no foundation in fact but earned him Trump’s endorsement. In our state, the candidate who lost the 2020 gubernatorial election blames fraud — even though he lost by 500,000 votes.

Such claims have undermined our democracy. Even for those who do not believe them, the constant questioning of facts and erosion of the truth leads to doubt about the integrity of our election system.

Regardless of which candidate is elected to succeed Herrera Beutler, we hope they emulate her in two ways: Focusing on issues that matter here rather than distractions, and bolstering our election system rather than tearing it down.

The people of Southwest Washington should demand nothing less.

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