Nierenberg has helped raise more than $100,000 for Perez’s campaign. And while money can translate into political speech, it’s Nierenberg’s words that carry more impact.
He speaks of the “preservation of our precious democracy” along with Kent’s “lack of respect for facts” and damaging immigration policies and “the people he has chosen to keep company with.” That includes Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who have mastered incendiary rhetoric but shown little ability to legislate.
But mostly, Nierenberg speaks of Kent’s denial of the 2020 election results, which ignores the fact that some 60 lawsuits in support of a disgraced president yielded no evidence of fraud. “These people are deniers of facts,” he said. “It’s absolutely outrageous, dangerous. This is frightening; this is the American analogy to the Reichstag fire which brought the Nazis to power in Germany. The right-wing conspiracies with which Joe Kent associates himself cannot separate fact from fiction.”
Fiction, however, is a feature and not a bug for many voters. And while the race between Kent and Perez has garnered significant attention as it has been portrayed as a microcosm of national politics, there is something more at play here. There is the question of how many Republicans in Southwest Washington — those who profess to believe in small government and personal responsibility and traditional values and fiscal responsibility — will free themselves from the yoke of Trumpism and vote for a Democrat.
“I think everybody needs to do their homework and make their own decisions,” said Kathy McDonald, who is leading by example. She was vice chair of the Clark County Republican Party until recently, before leaving the organization and supporting Perez.
“I am about civility and building community,” McDonald said. “I don’t see that in him. When you legislate, you have to come to the table and have a conversation.”
Which, when you think about it, points to the difference in this race. Kent wants to metaphorically burn everything down, telling the New York Times, “I used to work in the federal government. It can shut down. It’s really not a big deal.”
Some local Republicans, at least, would prefer to build things up.