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Feb. 6, 2023

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Joe Kent: Herrera Beutler is too ‘establishment’

Yacolt Republican challenging 3rd Congressional District incumbent

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
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Congressional candidate Joe Kent.
Congressional candidate Joe Kent. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

As a soldier in the U.S. Army, Joe Kent says he dedicated his life to preserving America’s safety and integrity, and now he’s fighting to restore it in the race for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

The former Green Beret, 41, said he didn’t anticipate running for Congress until incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, voted in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump in 2021.

Now, Kent is weaponizing his Trump endorsement to challenge what he describes as “the establishment,” or Democrats and Republicans whom he says are plotting against the public through policy — Herrera Beutler included, he said.

This rhetoric is common in many of Kent’s campaign messages — many of which are broadcast on conservative platforms, including Tucker Carlson’s Fox News television program and Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast. The appearances garnered him nationwide support, where he perpetuates far-right talking points to large audiences: claims of election fraud, calls for freeing “political prisoners” from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, and repudiating gun regulations.

Kent maintains a staunch group of supporters who help him remain in a comfortable position near the top of the list with campaign finances. The latest Federal Election Commission report showed that he holds $1.39 million in total, whereas the incumbent sits on $2.26 million.

Joe Kent

Republican

Age: 41

Residence: Yacolt

Education: Norwich University

Occupation: Tech startup project manager

Experience: None

Online:www.joekentforcongress.com

Despite the gap in campaign finances, Kent says he is confident his goal in disassembling “the establishment” will encourage voters to join his efforts — beginning with unseating Herrera Beutler.

“Every time we need to stand up and actually fight for something that is going to benefit conservatives and the working class, she doesn’t do it,” he said. “She passed her litmus test with the establishment.”

Kent said he expects Democrats to vote for Herrera Beutler in the primaries if their party’s candidate doesn’t have a strong backing. Still, he isn’t concerned about whether he will get booted out of the race for a seat in Congress.

“The unity that we have to have is us shutting off our parties and doing what’s best for the American people,” Kent said.

National security, economic independence

As Kent pursues his goal, he says America should isolate itself from foreign companies, especially in the energy and manufacturing sectors. Furthermore, he believes the country’s miliary must maintain a strong foothold in technology in case of any future threats, especially as it relates to cyber warfare.

As it relates to the war in Ukraine, Kent said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military action in the country has been too aggressive, but he has said that Putin’s reason for doing so was legitimate, according to The Centralia Chronicle. He added that America should promote “aggressive diplomacy” moving forward rather than enforcing sanctions or utilizing the military, they reported.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kent said he became dissatisfied with the closures of businesses and schools, citing it as a major influence in tanking the economy. Both COVID-19 mandates and environmental regulations on timber and fishing industries diminish a strong workforce, he said.

Bolstering the working class and reducing inflation are a prime focus in Kent’s campaign, which he seeks to address through supporting legislation to build a border wall and reduce funding to sanctuary cities. Along with unwarranted government spending, he says illegal immigration is a risk to the economy due to corporations valuing cheap labor rather than providing jobs to minimum-wage workers.

Law enforcement, education reform

As a veteran, Kent would seek ways to reduce veteran homelessness by finding ways to consolidate chronic homeless encampments and supporting social programs. However, he said he wouldn’t back the allocation of federal funding to these programs unless law enforcement saw similar aid.

Conversely, Kent is adamantly against reducing police funding and police reform, such as Washington House Bill 1310.

Election 2022

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of candidate profiles for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. Each candidate who has consented to be interviewed will be profiled. Find all the profiles here.

“Before we give up the smoke signs, I would want to repeal the constraints they put on law enforcement recently,” he said.

Kent alleges that dismantling of democracy is worsened by the education system. He said the federal government supports curriculums that are antithetical to parents’ beliefs, including lessons about gender theory, sex education and the historical oppression of Black, Indigenous and people of color.

“If we can’t get rid of the Department of Education like I’d like to, I would cut off funding to education around critical race theory and ‘The 1619 (Project),’ ” Kent said.

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