Meanwhile, in the neighboring 3rd District, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) was in a close fight with Joe Kent, a Trump-endorsed veteran who called those arrested in the Jan. 6 inquest “political prisoners “.
Under Washington State’s nonpartisan primary system, all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, and the top two qualify for the general election. Although somewhat unique in their format, the Washington state primaries served as the final test of the ability of Republicans who opposed Trump to survive his efforts to unseat them.
Of the other GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump, four announced they would step down from Congress. Representatives Tom Rice (SC) and Peter Meijer (Mich.) lost their primary elections, while Representative David G. Valadao (California) survived his multiparty primary.
The Aug. 16 primary election in Wyoming will decide the political fate of the group’s final lawmaker, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), vice chairwoman of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had spent money to help conservative challengers in Meijer and Valadao, and is targeting the two districts in November. The national party is not focused on Washington’s 4th congressional district, the most trusted Republican party in the state, which Trump won in 2020 by nearly 20 points.
In that district, Newhouse took on Loren Culp, the Trump-endorsed challenger.
In Herrera Beutler’s 3rd District race, the candidate who claims second place in the general election will face Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, owner of an auto repair shop that the AP has planned to advance.
Newhouse and Herrera Beutler had outspent their opponents considerably and hoped to benefit from a crowded field of pro-Trump challengers. Both have lost substantial Republican support since their 2020 re-elections, when they won more than 50% of all-party primary votes.
Herrera Beutler also spoke publicly about a key phone call during the attack on Capitol Hill between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Trump had “initially repeated the lie that it was antifa that violated the Capitol,” Herrera Beutler said McCarthy told him.
According to Herrera Beutler, after McCarthy told Trump that it was his supporters who were storming the Capitol, Trump replied, “Well, Kevin, I guess those people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Culp, a former sheriff and gubernatorial candidate who was endorsed by Trump, predicted in a pre-election interview that Newhouse would struggle to unite Republican voters. The district, he said, wanted more conservative representation than Newhouse had provided.
“Everyone I talk to is sick of him,” Culp said. “Not only did he vote to impeach President Trump and vote for the Jan. 6 commission, he voted for anti-gun laws, he voted for big government spending.”
When it comes to Herrera Beutler’s primary, National Democrats haven’t spent any money, seeing a southwestern Washington district that voted for Trump by a single-digit margin as a tough midterm target where the party is on the defensive. While Herrera Beutler regularly edged the GOP ticket, Kent said in an interview that Trump’s popularity and his agenda were understated.
“No Republican voter wakes up in the morning saying, ‘My God, what are Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham saying about the issues of the day?’ said Kent. “They’re looking for the ‘America First’ message coming from Trump, coming from Matt Gaetz, coming from Marjorie Taylor Greene,” he added, naming some far-right members of Congress who have polarized.
In an interview, Perez said the seat was winnable in a race against Kent, which she called “a classic bundle of good hair and bad ideas.”