Joe Kent pulls ahead of Jaime Herrera Beutler

If the new ranking is in place, Kent will finish second and face Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in November, edging out Herrera Beutler in the primary.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Republican challenger Joe Kent has overtaken incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler in the race for Washington’s 3rd congressional district after Monday night’s voting count update, likely ousting the six-year-old GOP congresswoman in the primary.

As of Monday night, Kent had 22.8% of the vote and Herrera Beutler 22.3%, a 960 vote gap. Herrera Beutler had a slim lead Monday, and her lead increased slightly when Cowlitz County updated its results around 3:00 p.m. but then disappeared when Clark County updated just after 5:00 p.m

In Washington’s primary system, all candidates run in a single race, and the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to a runoff in the general election. If his new lead holds, Kent will take second place, advancing alongside Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

The result is a reversal of where things were after the results of the first round were released on election night. Gluesenkamp Perez took the lead early with about 31.8% of the vote, but Herrera Beutler seemed secure in second place with about 24.5%, with Kent third with about 20.1%.

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But every ward in the district updated the tally daily last week as more votes were counted and Kent’s share of the vote increased each day. Friday’s update left him less than 300 votes away from overtaking Herrera Beutler.

Herrera Beutler has represented Southwest Washington since 2010, but she faced a tougher main challenge this year as Kent and another Republican challenger, Heidi St. John, both ran on Herrera Beutler’s right.

Backed by former President Donald Trump, Kent said his rejection of Herrera Beutler’s vote to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot was the biggest factor that pushed him to join the race.

Kent, a former Green Beret and CIA employee, describes himself as an America First candidate and has repeated Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was being rigged and stolen. He also argued in an interview with KGW that Trump bears no responsibility for the January 6 events.

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Herrera Beutler was one of ten House Republicans who voted to impeach. The only other from Washington, Rep. Dan Newhouse, has survived a similar key challenge in the 4th congressional district of defeating Trump-backed candidate Loren Culp and advancing alongside Democrat Doug White.

There will be a few more ballot updates this week, but they will be smaller. Clark County had about 10,000 ballots left to be counted as of Monday night and will be updated next Tuesday. Cowlitz had just under 500 and will update next Wednesday.

The district also includes a small southern portion of Thurston County, which had about 7,000 votes statewide after Monday’s update and will be updated next Tuesday.

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The other counties within the district — Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum — have a total of about 200 ballots left and won’t be updated again until next week (district certification deadline is Tuesday, August 16).

In Washington, a mandatory recount is triggered when the gap between an advancing candidate and a losing candidate is less than 2,000 votes, and also less than 0.5% of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

The current gap of 960 votes between Kent and Herrera Beutler comes close to, but does not reach, this threshold. It’s less than 2,000 but more than 0.5% of the total votes, which would be 471. Joe Kent pulls ahead of Jaime Herrera Beutler

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