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News / Northwest

Trump just made a 2024 endorsement in this Eastern WA congressional grudge match

By Eric Rosane, Tri-City Herald
Published: April 15, 2024, 7:41am

KENNEWICK — Former President Donald Trump has endorsed a MAGA challenger to U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse in a notch against the Sunnyside, Wash., Republican who voted to impeach Trump follow the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“Newhouse has to go,” Trump wrote in a Friday post to Truth Social. “Jerrod Sessler is MAGA all the way, and has my complete and total endorsement — he will never let you down.”

Trump also called the incumbent a “weak and pathetic RINO,” or Republican in name only.

Newhouse plans to run for a sixth term in Congress this year. The Tri-City Herald reached out to his campaign for comment but has not heard back yet.

Sessler is a businessman, U.S. Navy veteran and fellow Republican from Prosser.

He previously told the Herald that he’s running to “clinch up the purse strings” of Congress and unseat Newhouse, who he says doesn’t represent the conservative values of central Washington voters.

While he’s never held public office, Sessler considers himself a political firebrand.

His time in the public spotlight also has been mired with controversies, including threats made against a Benton County code enforcement officer who visited his home in 2022 and tiffs against another candidate’s campaign manager that same year.

“#Honored,” Sessler wrote in a short post to X/Twitter that included a screenshot of Trump’s endorsement.

This year will be Sessler’s second try at ousting Newhouse.

Sessler and five other Republicans tried in 2022 to unseat the Fourth District congressman, but a crowded Republican field divided conservative votes and allowed the Sunnyside farmer to surf to an easy reelection victory.

He placed fourth in the August 2022 top-two primary election, earning 12% of the vote. Sessler was ultimately beaten out by Democrat Doug White, who received 25% and advanced alongside Newhouse to the general election.

Loren Culp, the Trump-backed candidate in that primary, also outdid Sessler with 22% of the vote.

Newhouse was the only pro-impeachment Republican to defeat a Trump-endorsed primary challenger that year.

But Republicans appear to be going for a more unifying strategy this cycle.

When they meet next week in Spokane for their state convention, Republican delegates for the first time will vote to endorse a single candidate running in each of the major federal and statewide offices.

The Fourth Congressional District encompasses central Washington, stretching from the U.S.-Canada border down to the Columbia River. It includes Omak, East Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Yakima, the Yakama Indian Reservation and the Tri-Cities.

It’s also Washington’s most conservative-leaning congressional district. The 2022 Cook Partisan Voting Index rated it R+11 in 2022.

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