Incumbents lead early fundraising in Washington bellwether Congressional races

Feb 2, 2022, 9:09 AM | Updated: 9:26 am

Congress Washington...

From left to right, Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Kim Schrier. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Efforts to unseat incumbent members of Congress representing Washington state have produced mixed fundraising results early in the campaign cycle.

Among the state’s 10 Congressional districts, three have stood out prominently as potential bellwethers for Washington’s political landscape: Districts 3, 4, and 8. In Districts 3 and 4, the eventual winner could ultimately indicate where Washington’s Republican voters stand on repeated claims of election fraud from 2020, while District 8 could prove (or disprove) rumblings that Republicans are gaining ground on Democrats in the traditionally blue state.

District 3, incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was re-elected by a wide margin in 2020, having served in Congress since 2011. She made headlines in January of 2021 after joining 35 of her Republican colleagues in voting to impeach then-President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Herrera Beutler has since faced frequent criticism from Republicans in her Congressional district, which came to a head with a formal censure from the Clark County GOP last February. Up for re-election again in 2022, she faces her first serious primary challenge since she first took office.

The latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings indicate that she is out to an early lead in campaign fundraising, having already brought in over $2.2 million. She’s spent roughly $656,000 of that, with over $1.6 million in remaining cash on-hand.

She faces four Republican primary challengers, led by Trump-backed Army veteran Joe Kent, who has raised nearly $1.4 million (the most of any non-incumbent candidate statewide). Kent has been one of a handful of high-profile Republicans in Washington who have continued to insist that the 2020 election was fraudulent. More recently, he led a rally outside the state Department of Health offices in Tumwater over disproven claims that the state Board of Health was meeting to set up forced COVID-19 quarantine facilities for the unvaccinated.

Trailing behind Kent in campaign funds is Christian author and blogger Heidi St. John, who has similarly supported Donald Trump’s election fraud narrative. She has raised almost $582,000, but has just $338,000 on-hand following early spending.

State Rep. Vicki Kraft — who was a later entry to the race — has raised just $12,000, with $4,000 on-hand. Like Kent and St. John, Kraft’s messaging has centered on largely unproven claims of voter fraud, having recently joined a coalition of 186 Republicans across 39 states in calling for a full 50-state ballot audit. Kraft was also one of three Washington state lawmakers who signed on to a letter from the coalition asking states to decertify their electors from 2020.

District 4, incumbent Rep. Dan Newhouse

Rep. Dan Newhouse faces three Republican primary challengers of his own, after joining Herrera Beutler in voting to impeach Trump in 2021. Newhouse was first elected to Congress in 2014, with his closest primary coming in 2016, when he topped Republican Clint Didier by a 45.8% to 27.5% margin. For this election cycle, Newhouse’s campaign has raised roughly $965,000 so far, with $855,000 in cash on-hand.

The next closest candidate is Navy veteran and former NASCAR driver Jerrod Sessler, having brought in $435,000, but also spending over half of it already, leaving him with $202,000 on-hand. Sessler attended Mike Lindell’s three-day “Cyber Symposium” on election fraud, and has been endorsed by Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, who has been one of Trump’s most stalwart supporters in challenging the validity of the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, Loren Culp — who ran for Washington governor in 2020 — has seen his campaign funds dwindle, with just $32,000 on-hand despite raising a total of roughly $145,000. Culp has repeatedly maintained his belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent, refusing for weeks to concede defeat to eventual gubernatorial winner Jay Inslee. Culp then filed a lawsuit demanding an audit of Washington state’s paper ballots and vote counting machines, before abruptly withdrawing it less than a month later.

Like his state House colleague Kraft, State Rep. Brad Klippert’s Congressional campaign hasn’t managed to build fundraising momentum as of yet, having raised just $16,000 with $3,600 cash on-hand. Klippert has stated that he has a “reasonable suspicion” that there was widespread voter fraud in 2020, going so far as to propose Washington do away with its vote-by-mail system entirely. He is also among the coalition of Republicans – along with Kraft — pushing for a nationwide ballot audit.

District 8, incumbent Rep. Kim Schrier

Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier’s seat has long been a target of Washington Republicans, after winning the traditionally purple district in 2018 over challenger Dino Rossi. She narrowly held on to win re-election against Republican Jesse Jensen in 2020, defeating him by a 51.7% to 48.1% margin.

For her second re-election bid, Schrier has vastly outraised her opponents, bringing in nearly $3 million, the most of any Washington Congressional candidate.

Meanwhile, Republican Matt Larkin has raised over $521,000. Larkin ran for state Attorney General in 2020, losing to incumbent Bob Ferguson by a 56.4% to 43.5% margin. Trailing behind Larkin is current King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn at $342,000, who announced his own candidacy last November.

Jensen is also running for the District 8 Congressional seat again in 2022, but has not yet raised funds for this election cycle.

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Incumbents lead early fundraising in Washington bellwether Congressional races