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Dec. 4, 2022

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In Our View: Perez’s message clarion call for both parties

The Columbian
Published:

While declaring victory in the 3rd Congressional District election, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez has touched on some points that should be heeded by both major political parties.

“Right up to the end, far-away pundits and prognosticators said this race couldn’t be won,” the Democrat said in a statement. “They dismissed the possibility that a moderate Democrat focused on prioritizing the needs of this district over partisan point scoring could win in a rural, working-class district.”

Perez has been declared the winner by major media outlets following the latest release of ballot counts. That does not mean the count has been completed; it means that people who study such things believe that Republican Joe Kent has no path to victory.

Kent responded on Twitter: “What the media says is irrelevant, it’s another narrative designed to stop voters from ballot curing and to force me to concede — not gonna happen. We’re on the streets ballot curing. The fight goes on while the talking heads talk.”

Indeed, nothing is official until Nov. 29, when results are certified by officials in the seven counties that comprise the 3rd District.

If the results hold, we encourage Kent to graciously concede. Such grace is not a foregone conclusion; Kent has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud in the 2020 presidential campaign. But allowing our region and our nation to effectively move forward and deal with pressing issues requires that the results of free and fair elections be accepted.

Throughout the campaign, Kent has appeared more interested in raising his national profile than in working for the good of the 3rd District. His response to the final results will indicate whether he is honorably concerned with the direction of the nation or whether he is fixated on personal celebrity status.

Meanwhile, the statement from Perez’s campaign unearths several political truths.

One is that prognosticators gave her little chance to win. Prior to Election Day, FiveThirtyEight.com — which crunches the numbers from various polls — had Kent with a 98 percent chance at victory.

More important, Perez touched upon her legitimate status as a moderate Democrat.

She is a resident of rural Skamania County, not a big-city liberal who can be easily demonized by conservative media as out of touch with “regular” people. She co-owns and operates an auto repair shop with her husband. And she eschews liberal dogma — for example, by supporting gun rights. During the campaign, she stressed that she will not support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the house (if Democrats retain control), pointing to Pelosi as an out-of-touch politician.

Perez also correctly criticizes political “point scoring.” Many a midterm campaign across the nation focused on red meat issues or blue dog rhetoric without focusing on the problems facing the nation. Perez, instead, noted that we all would benefit from electing people “with experience outside of Congress” and that “Congress doesn’t look like America.”

A freshman congresswoman from Southwest Washington would not single-handedly change that; nor would she be able to alter the direction of her party. But Perez’s understanding of the 3rd Congressional District provides hope that she will grow into an effective voice for the issues that matter to us.

If Perez does, indeed, win the election, it will be a powerful lesson to both parties about the kind of candidates they should be promoting.

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