Oct 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Dem ad targets "extreme" GOP candidate Joe Kent

A super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is making a rare play for a Republican-held Trump district in Washington with an ad that targets GOP candidate Joe Kent as "too extreme" for the seat.

Why it matters: The ad buy highlights how Democrats are still working to compete in districts that — while far-from-reach on paper — are competitive due to the nomination of MAGA-aligned fringe candidates.

Driving the news: House Majority PAC is spending $322,000 on an ad that praises Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, an auto shop owner, as "different" and an "independent voice," while blasting Kent, a former Green Beret, as a "far-right extremist."

  • The ad cites Kent's support for a national abortion ban and says he "treats the Jan. 6 rioters as heroes, even after police officers died."
  • "Joe Kent is too extreme," the ad concludes.

The other side: “Democrats are so terrified of Joe Kent they'll stop at nothing to keep him out of Congress, including lying. Joe supports women whose lives are threatened by pregnancy getting the care they need," Kent's campaign manager Ozzie Gonzalez told Axios.

  • "The real extremist on this issue is Marie who supports taxpayer-funded abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, a position too extreme for most who consider themselves 'pro-choice.'"

By the numbers: Washington's 3rd district, which covers the southwestern corner of the state, voted for former President Trump by five points in 2020.

  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who has held the seat since 2011, won by 13 points that year.

The backdrop: With early backing from Trump and billionaire GOP donors Stephen Wynn and Peter Thiel, Kent successfully primaried Herrera Beutler, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 attack.

  • Kent has vowed to "adjudicate" the 2020 election, attended a rally at the Capitol last fall in support of Jan. 6 riot defendants, and has said he wouldn't support Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as GOP leader — preferring someone further to the right.

The big picture: Democrats have made extremism a key focus of their attacks on Republicans wherever applicable.

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