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News / Clark County News

Press Talk: And where do we go from here?

By Lou Brancaccio
Published: September 3, 2022, 6:00am

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was feeling the heat, and it wasn’t from the oppressive summer air. The Donald was on the warpath after she was one of a handful of Republicans who voted to impeach him. The chief chooch had JHB in the cross hairs. And with her August primary just around the corner, things were getting just a bit uncomfortable. In the past, JHB had easily dispatched the Democratic lightweights that were thrown at her, but now — now — she was in the fight of her political life. And it was coming from her own Republican party.

Trump might be nothing more than a room temperature IQ snake oil salesman, but make no mistake: He has tapped into a tsunami of support. His base — uneducated whites — loves this guy for all the wrong reasons. But they love him, nonetheless.

So when Trump said some Yacolt guy named Joe Kent was the chosen one for the 3rd Congressional District, JHB knew it was going to be a long, difficult campaign.

That’s where I come in.

(I’m not sure if this column is beginning to sound a little like some new Marvel superhero movie narration, but let’s go with that … just because.)

JHB had a decision to make. A big one. She didn’t know it at the time, but when I asked to speak with her before the primary for my column, if she said “yes,” she could have saved democracy, the United States and the world. If she said “no,” well, we’d be on the eve of destruction.

• • •

Getting to speak with politicians these days is no easy task. It’s especially true with Trump Republicans. If you think about Trump, for example he rarely speaks to legitimate journalists. He doesn’t have the stomach or the brains to go head to head with a print reporter. No matter what is revealed about this guy, he simply tweets that it’s all political.

Many Republicans have followed that lead. Don’t talk to reporters, because they might actually ask a bunch of questions you don’t have good answers for.

JHB, on the other hand, has always spoken to me. That doesn’t mean I can just punch in her number and she answers. But it means I eventually can get to her.

But I knew this time before the primary election could be different. She certainly was on edge. Trump might be a buffoon, but he was the head buffoon, and his troops were incomprehensibly loyal. Her primary election would be tight. And anything she did could tip the election one way or the other. She knew I wasn’t much of a Trump fan, and that certainly would play into her decision to speak with me.

Her office was polite — as always — and said they’d get back to me.

It didn’t take long for them to say sorry, but JHB wouldn’t be available because she was too busy doing Congress stuff.

Really? Well, that is one busy representative to not be able to carve out 30 minutes for little ol’ me. Obviously, JHB made the risk/reward calculation, and our talk came out on the losing end.

• • •

But what if instead of saying no, she had said yes? Could that decision have changed the election results? (She missed getting into the general election by about 1,000 votes out of almost 220,000 votes cast.)

The column I had planned — but never wrote because she said no — would have addressed the need for Democrats to appreciate what was at stake here. In Washington primaries — as most voters know — Democrats can vote for Republicans, and Republicans can vote for Democrats. So even though Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez was on the ballot, a number of Democrats could have voted for JHB.

It would have been a column suggesting if that switch happened, the Democrats would still have gotten their candidate into the general election but against JHB, not Kent.

If JHB had said yes and that column was written would a few Democrats have woken up to vote for her? Maybe. Just maybe.

• • •

But the past is the past. So where do we go from here? Is the world now doomed because — sort of like COVID — the Trump menace will spread? Maybe not.

Moderate JHB voters have a chance to save the day. Rather than voting the party line in the general election and back yet another Trump worshiper, vote for the Democrat. It is an opportunity for Republicans, those who believe in conservative, decent values, to show their party Trump is not the way forward.

Then two years from now — if Republicans get back to their roots and put up a non-Trump supporter — vote the Democrat out.

And just that easy, the world is saved. Quit rolling your eyes. It’s a Marvel movie, for goodness sake.