Republican who voted for impeachment concedes to Trump-backed challenger in Washington state primary

Jaime Herrera Beutler does not mention Joe Kent in statement

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 10 August 2022 16:04 BST
House managers read statement from Rep Herrera Beutler

A Republican congresswoman who voted for Donald Trump’s impeachment has conceded a hard-fought primary battle to a challenger endorsed by the former president in Washington state.

“Ever since I was first elected to this seat I have done my very best to serve my home region and our country,” Jaime Herrera Beutler said in a statement released to the media on Tuesday afternoon.

“Though my campaign came up short this time, I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together for the place where I was raised and still call home.”

Ms Herrera Beutler, 43, was one of ten Republicans in the House who backed impeaching Mr Trump for his role in the January 6 Capitol riots, and establishing a committee to investigate what happened that day, and the events leading up to them.

Mr Trump vowed to oust all of them, and backed hardline challengers to those who did not stand down from politics.

In Washington’s third congressional district, Mr Trump backed Joe Kent, 42, a former green beret, who served multiple tours and whose wife was killed by an Isis bomb in Syria.

The race had not been officially called by the Associated Press, whose decision-making is usually followed by other media in US elections.

But Ms Herrera Beutler’s statment came after more results were announced on Tuesday showing Mr Kent’s lead ahead her had been trimmed slightly, but that he still was ahead of her by 928 votes, after a surge on Monday evening.

It was reckoned there were about just 3,000 votes left to be counted. If the things proceed as they appear set to, Mr Kent will take part in a showdown in November againt Democrat Marie Perez, 34, who came first in the open primary.

Ms Perez secured 67,674 votes to Mr Kent’s 49,515 and Ms Herrera Beutler’s 48,587. Democrats last won the third congressional district, which covers southwest Washington, in 2008.

Joe Kent to call for impeachment of ‘unfit’ Joe Biden

Ms Herrera Beutler did not mention Mr Kent in her statement. Yet she appeared to refer to the events of Jan 6 2021, when hundreds of supporters of Mr Trump stormed the US Capitol in an attemt to stop Joe Biden’s victory being certified.

“I’m proud that I always told the truth, stuck to my principles, and did what I knew to be best for our country,” she said.

There was no immediate comment from Mr Kent. Rather, he tweeted several articles about the concession.

In an interview with The Independent earlier this year, Mr Kent said: “We’re feeling pretty strong [Trump’s] still probably the most powerful endorsement in the history of US politics.”

Asked about his support of Mr Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was rigged, he said: “I’m pretty adamant. I’m pretty confident in what I’ve seen that the election was rigged or stolen, however you want to put it, that Joe Biden did not 270 electoral votes.”

He added: “The way I’ll always caveat that, though, is that I believe that and I want to prove it. So I want there to be a venue. And I think when I get into Congress, we need to have a full congressional inquiry.”

On Monday evening, after Mr Kent pulled ahead of Ms Herrera Beutler, Ms Perez said the voters of Washington’s third congressional district deserved someone better.

“Joe Kent represents hyperpartisan extremism, falsehoods and conspiracy theories, attacks on our democracy and our elections, and the divisiveness and dysfunction that is paralysing the other Washington and tearing our country apart,” she said.

Another of the ten Republicans in the House who voted for impeachment, Dan Newhouse, from Washington’s fourth congressional district, held off a challenge from Loren Culp, a former police chief who had the ex-president’s backing in that contest.

He will go to the general election against Democrat Doug White, the Associated Press announced on Friday.

Last week, Michigan congressman Peter Meijer lost to challenger John Gibbs, who had the support of Mr Trump.

Two others had primaries in June. Tom Rice of South Carolina lost, while David Valadao in California survived. Mr Trump’s main nemesis, Liz Cheney, faces a primary showdown on 16 August. She is widely expected to be defeated.

The other four retired rather than face voters again.

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