The secretary of state certified Washington’s 3rd Congressional District recount Thursday, confirming its original outcome and discrediting skepticism surrounding general election results.
A recount of all seven counties in the district confirmed Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez prevailed. She received 160,323 votes, or 50.14 percent, while Republican Joe Kent got 157,690 votes, or 49.31 percent.
The recount awarded Perez nine additional votes; Kent received five more, compared with the results originally tallied in late November. Perez’s final margin of victory was 2,633 votes, four more than the original tally.
Kent’s campaign was billed approximately $48,500 for the recount, since the original results were not close enough to trigger one.
The recount certification is the second and final time the election will be confirmed.
So, what’s next for Kent?
His campaign did not respond to The Columbian’s request for a comment, but it appears Kent, who lives in the Yacolt area, will remain in the public eye.
In Kent’s concession announcement Wednesday, he assured his voters “I’m not done yet,” and, at a mid-December Patriots United event in Washougal, Kent announced he intends to run for Congress again in 2024.
“I’m glad Joe Kent accepted his loss, and I look forward to serving as Southwest Washington’s independent voice in Congress,” Perez responded on Wednesday. “Democracy is alive and well in our corner of the country.”
Mark Stephan, Washington State University Vancouver political science professor, said if Kent wishes to vie for the seat again, he should stay involved in conservative circles, whether through consulting or advocacy work. Kent said he would alter his strategy to avoid losing “the voter turnout battle” among Republicans.
Maintaining and expanding visibility throughout Southwest Washington doesn’t only apply to Kent, according to Stephan.
In her new official capacity, Perez will likely face pressure to become better known among her constituents, he said, which she will do through her voting behavior. Considering Republicans will narrowly control the House in the 118th Congress, there will be “no real sacrifice” for Perez to vote within her party or across the aisle.
“She just simply has to be clear about her narrative, about why she’s making the choices she is and connect them back to the things that matter to the district,” Stephan said, while projecting Perez will have a minimal impact through legislation as a new member of Congress.
To increase her influence, Perez must win reelection to hold her seat, otherwise “she has done nothing for the party,” he said. Every term that follows will make Perez’s congressional tenure easier and more successful, but he forecasts there will likely be an even more robust and competitive period for Republicans in the next congressional election.
“(Kent) is going to have a lot of competition,” he said. “(Republicans) really do think they can get (the seat) back and, honestly, they can get it back. Will they is a separate question.”