The top two candidates for the 3rd Congressional District are sharpening their attacks and honing their strategies for reaching voters who would have otherwise supported Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler — or might just stay home.
“People may say, ‘I’m just going to sit this one out’ (or) ‘it’s not my problem it’s your problem,’ ” said Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez. “It is their problem, and communicating to them about this opportunity and the risk is how we motivate folks to show up and vote.”
“It’s kind of a binary choice, regardless of how people felt about Trump,” said Republican Joe Kent. “If you look at the full scope of what the Biden administration is doing. … We just can’t trust the Democrats right now.”
As of Wednesday evening, election results showed Perez with 67,937 votes, or 31.02 percent of the 219,039 ballots tallied to date, and Kent with 49,887 votes, or 22.78 percent. Clark County reports 200 ballots outstanding and a voter turnout of 43.55 percent of eligible voters. Its next tally isn’t until Monday, the day before the election is certified.
Despite Perez and Kent winning the chance to advance to the general election, they both must work toward gaining name recognition outside of their dedicated bases. As both campaigns pick up steam, money will play a key role in ensuring the candidates’ messaging reaches and resonates with voters.
Perez raised nearly $250,000 for her campaign leading up to the primary election — a meager amount compared to Kent’s $2.2 million war chest. Moving forward, she said fundraising will be central to expanding her outreach within the district.
Fortunately for the candidate, her donations have already shot up.
In the past 24 hours, Perez said her campaign has received $100,000 in small donations, which she attributes to Southwest Washingtonians not wanting to be represented by “another Marjorie Taylor Greene.” She said Kent’s messaging depends on fearmongering, whereas she is focused on enacting good governance.
“He has millions, (and) we have the truth,” Perez said.
Kent, a former Green Beret, centralized his “America First” campaign around dismantling “the establishment,” among other national issues. Kent told The Columbian his answers on hot topics will remain the same, but his messaging will shift to a more local perspective.
On the other hand, Perez’s campaign initially emphasized local working-class needs and their importance to the region’s economic success. Perez co-owns an auto repair shop with her husband and has a degree in economics, which she said are factors that make her more competent than her opponent to represent the 3rd District’s needs.
“There’s only one candidate though, who has actually been growing a family (and) works in the trades and delivers jobs that people can be proud of,” Perez said.
Similarly, Kent said his campaign’s focus will remain on the state of the economy.
“I do think there are some bigger issues out there but, for your everyday person living here in Washington, inflation is going to be massive,” he said.