Brent Hennrich is seeking to mend what he thinks needs fixing, one Band-Aid at a time.
His campaign sign is decorated with the illustration of a medical adhesive strip, reflecting his intention to heal Washington’s 3rd Congressional District and its constituents. Hennrich, 42, said helping people in Southwest Washington live their lives to the fullest rather than merely surviving is at the core of his campaign focus.
Health is a common theme in Hennrich’s messaging, similar to how it is in his life — his mother worked for the Multnomah County Health Department. Everything is health and health care, he said, and having the ability to live in good health shouldn’t be something a person needs to dispute — still, there are political forces that make this unattainable for some.
Hennrich, a stay-at-home father of three, is aiming to unseat incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, who is running for a seventh term. Despite not having political experience, he’s making headway a Democrat in the race with $45,366.16 in financial contributions as of December, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Climate change, improving overall health
Addressing the world’s climate crisis on a local level would help tackle Hennrich’s multifaceted goal. Specifically, he aims to bolster the state’s energy sector, churning out more jobs and clean energy in the process. By decreasing the use of fossil fuels and investing in renewable sources, Southwest Washington can become energy independent, he said.
In a similar vein, Hennrich runs on empowering America’s lower and middle classes through raising the minimum wage, as well as investing more in trade and technical job education. He said the jobs technical training produces would contribute to a prosperous clean energy industry. He said the formation of labor unions should be supported, as this enables people to work toward upward economic mobility.
The best indication of economic prosperity, according to Hennrich, is the creation of local jobs and healthy consumer spending. Affordable housing, accessible education, and universal health care plays an integral role in this, harkening back to his overarching goal of helping people live comfortably and happily without “just getting by.”
Interstate 5, addressing border security
The Interstate 5 Bridge is a critical hub for interstate commerce, Hennrich said, and it requires collaboration between Washington and Oregon lawmakers. He believes the bridge should be fully funded at the federal level, though he acknowledged it will likely require state funding in the form of tolling. If this is the case, he said, he will advocate for reducing the fee it would impose on Southwest Washington residents who commute to Oregon for work.
There is another conversation surrounding the I-5 Bridge as it relates to southern border security and how it perpetuates criminal activity, which Hennrich said is unfounded and harmful when talking about immigration. Conservative challengers for the 3rd District point at a crisis along the border as it relates to fentanyl being funneled through the West Coast highway system. Hennrich, however, said the country should focus on providing sanctuary and aid for those who flee their homeland and, conversely, examine what causes them to do so.
Hennrich takes pride in his campaign’s approach to maintaining transparency with constituents in the district. His dissatisfaction with incumbent Herrera Beutler’s communication with her constituents is one of the foundational reasons he decided to run.
“Accessibility is a cornerstone of my campaign. It is interacting with the constituents and being available to them,” Hennrich said. “For too long, this district’s congress member has isolated herself. You can’t represent somebody you don’t talk to.”
Washington’s 3rd District is a swing district that isn’t considered safe for either Democrats or Republicans. Although voters in the region voted to keep Republican Herrera Beutler in the seat since 2011, Hennrich is confident he can change its trajectory.
“We have a very good chance to flip the 3rd,” he said.