Campaign cash is pouring into the race for Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District as candidates and voters prepare for a contentious election year.
Incumbent Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, ended 2023 with more money for her reelection campaign than Republican challengers Joe Kent of Yacolt and Leslie Lewallen of Camas combined.
With $2.1 million at the beginning of 2023, Perez has since hauled in nearly $800,000 in contributions through her official campaign committee, bringing her total to $2.9 million this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Additionally, the Marie Gluesenkamp Perez Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee, closed 2023 with $121,297 on hand, records show.
Challenger Kent, a former Green Beret and Trump-endorsed candidate who narrowly lost to Perez in 2022, ended 2023 with $532,293 on hand, according to federal reports. His campaign raked in $291,146 through his official campaign committee, including $5,322 in the last quarter, bringing his total to $823,440. Meanwhile, the Joe Kent Victory Fund — a separate political committee that includes Joe Kent for Congress, KENT PAC and the Washington State Republican Party — raised $406,484 in the last quarter, bringing his net total to $1,487,334.
However, it was not immediately clear Tuesday how much money Kent had at the start of 2023, and a spokesperson was not available to clarify.
Leslie Lewallen, a fifth-generation Washingtonian and former prosecutor who serves on the Camas City Council, has raised $340,000, including about $120,000 in the last quarter. Her campaign had $140,000 on hand when the year began, records show.
Republicans are eager to regain the seat Jaime Herrera Beutler held for 12 years. Kent bested the incumbent in a 2022 primary challenge, but then lost in the general election to the unheralded Perez, a self-described moderate Democrat.
As 2024 heats up, the candidates are staking their positions and rallying their bases. Each brings a different approach to tackling Southwest Washington’s most pressing issues, such as homelessness, high housing costs, addiction and crime.
For example, on Saturday, Kent participated in the Take Our Border Back Convoy, a conservative rally in San Ysidro, Calif., protesting illegal immigration at the southern border. In a short speech, he blamed the surge in fentanyl entering Southwest Washington on the Democrats’ immigration policy. He called out Perez for saying her constituents “don’t stay awake at night worrying about the southern border” on a podcast.
“People stay awake at night worrying that their kid is going to relapse or that, you know, someone’s going to drop out of school or they’re going to lose their house,” she said.
Perez hit back at Kent, saying he’s spending too much of his time away from his district and indulging conspiracy theorists.
“I’m working and biking in our district today, but Joe Kent’s at a QAnon rally in California,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.