Herrera Beutler challenger Kent leads in fundraising among pro-Trump rivals

By Jim Brunner

The Seattle Times

Army Special Forces veteran Joe Kent is starting to pull ahead of the pack of challengers seeking to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in next year’s midterms — at least in terms of fundraising.

Kent raised $366,000 in the second quarter of the year, according to the latest round of reports to the Federal Election Commission, filed this week. That was more than any other challenger to a U.S. House incumbent in Washington.

The new round of FEC reports serve as an early heat check for which congressional incumbents may face substantive reelection fights in the 2022 midterms, with Republicans looking to take back Congressional majorities while also feuding internally over loyalty to former President Donald Trump.

Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, and Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, are facing backlash among Republicans angry over their votes to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. But Newhouse’s challengers are off to a comparatively weak start in fundraising.

State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich said the usual midterm dynamics — in which the party in control of the White House loses seats in Congress — is reflected in Washington’s budding midterm races.

“We are the party that is on offense, as you’d expect at this point in history,” he said, pointing to a lack of notable Democratic challengers emerging so far against the Washington GOP’s congressional incumbents.

The most intense early midterm action is brewing in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District — which includes Pacific County — where local Republican organizations have excoriated Herrera Beutler and vowed to back her rivals.

Still, Herrera Beutler, up for a seventh term next year, saw a burst of bipartisan support after her impeachment vote, and remains well ahead in total money raised. She pulled in $463,000 in the second quarter, which covers March through June, leaving her with more than $1 million in the bank. Kent reported $512,000 in the bank (he has contributed and loaned more than $225,000 to his own campaign).

Kent boasted his own fundraising is built on donations from individuals, while roughly half of Herrera Beutler’s money came from political action committees. “@HerreraBeutler is running on America Last PACs not grassroots donations,” he said in a tweet Friday.

Parker Truax, a Herrera Beutler campaign spokesman, said in an email the congresswoman is focused on salmon protection, combating wildfires and supporting police. The latest fundraising report “demonstrates she’ll have all the resources necessary to share that record with voters,” he said.

Christian author and home schooling advocate Heidi St. John, another of Herrera Beutler’s Republican challengers, raised $149,000 in the second quarter, leaving her with $222,000 in the bank.

Kent and St. John have sought out Trump’s endorsement and met with him in person.