Image for Joe Kent Surges to Overtake Herrera-Beutler
After inching past incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican Joe Kent qualified to run against Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp in the November general election in what will be an open seat. The battle between first-time congressional candidates will be watched nationally because Kent is endorsed by Donald Trump.

Trump-backed Kent to Face Democrat Perez

Republican Joe Kent overcame an early vote count deficit to pull ahead of Third District Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and claim the second spot in Washington’s top-two primary. Beutler conceded Tuesday.

Early returns last week showed Beutler with a 5,000-vote lead in her bid to win a sixth term. However, as vote counting continued, her lead shrunk to a few hundred votes Monday and Kent inched ahead Tuesday with 49,515 votes or 22.74 percent of the total vote. Beutler’s Tuesday vote count was 48,587 or 22.31 percent.

Kent, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in response to Beutler’s vote to impeach him, will face Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in what will be an open seat. Perez collected 67,674 votes or 31.07 percent. Perez said the race between Kent and her will be a “national bellwether for the direction of the country”.

Clark County election officials said voter turnout in the primary reached 43.44 percent, with only 500 ballots yet to count.

Kent, who faced a torrent of negative advertising suggesting he was previously a Democrat who supported defunding police, moved quickly Tuesday to unify the district’s Republican base. Both he and Perez are first-time candidates who will need to build name familiarity between now and November.

On his campaign website, Kent says he was born in a cabin in Sweet Home, Oregon. When he turned 18, he enlisted in the US Army and advanced to a Ranger Regiment, serving for 20 years and 11 deployments. He left military service after his wife was killed in Syria fighting ISIS. He returned to the Pacific Northwest with his two sons and moved to Yacolt, Washington to be close to his parents. “I voted for Representative Beutler to stand firm for my family and our district. She betrayed that trust and made it clear that I needed to act decisively,” Kent said in explaining his primary challenge.

Kent and Perez are first-time candidates who will need to build name familiarity between now and November.

Perez and her husband own an independent auto repair business in Portland and live in Skamania County. Her website says she is running to be a “voice for working Washingtonians” who struggle to make ends meet and cannot afford health insurance. Perez pledged not to accept corporate PAC contributions. A Reed College graduate, she has an infant son.