Nov 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez defeats Trump-backed Joe Kent, flipping seat for Democrats

A woman in coveralls rests her arms on the open hood of a car, while speaking to someone whose back is to the camera.

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez, who owns an autoshop, has won a seat previously held by a Republican. Photo courtesy of the Gluesenkamp Pérez campaign

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez has defeated Joe Kent, a far-right Republican endorsed by former President Trump, delivering a major upset in Washington's 3rd Congressional District, the Associated Press reported Saturday night.

Why it matters: Gluesenkamp Pérez's win will turn the district in southwest Washington blue for the first time in 12 years, giving Democrats an important pickup as they fight to limit GOP gains in Congress.

  • It also comes as another blow to Trump, whose handpicked candidates have lost or struggled in many races nationwide.

The latest: Gluesenkamp Pérez, who lives in rural Skamania County and owns an auto shop in Portland, was leading Kent by a narrow margin on Saturday afternoon, according to the Washington secretary of state's office.

  • The AP called the race on the fifth day of vote counting in the all-mail election.

The big picture: Glusenkamp Pérez will succeed U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who lost her primary earlier this year. Herrera Beutler was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Catch up quick: On the campaign trail, Gluesenkamp Pérez, an auto repair shop owner, repeatedly argued that Kent held extreme views that would make it difficult for him to accomplish much in Congress.

Abortion was another flashpoint in the race, with Gluesenkamp Pérez arguing that Kent's anti-abortion stance would endanger women.

  • The candidates also clashed over immigration, with Kent wanting to end the issuance of work visas to immigrants and Gluesenkamp Pérez calling the idea "economic sabotage."

Flashback: After the 2020 election, Kent was a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the results in Washington state, alleging without evidence that votes were flipped, removed or added. A federal judge dismissed that claim last year.

What they're saying: In a statement Saturday, Gluesenkamp Pérez said that "Joe Kent's candidacy gave voice to some of the darkest impulses in our politics," including "xenophobia and authoritarianism."

  • "Southwest Washington looked them straight in the eye and said no — not here, not now, not ever," she said.
  • Kent, meanwhile, proclaimed on Twitter that "this is not over." He said his team is continuing to work to "cure" ballots that were rejected because of a signature mismatch or other issue.
  • "What the media says is irrelevant ... The fight goes on while the talking heads talk," he tweeted.
  • Kent has previously said he will accept the results of the Nov. 8 election.
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