Gluesenkamp Pérez running below the radar outside 3rd District
Nov 7, 2022, 4:58 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 9:41 pm
The 3rd Congressional District in Washington is one that’s easy to ignore. It’s tucked away in southwestern Washington, leaving people closer to Portland to pay more attention. But the fact is, the 3rd is another battleground race that could help tip the scales in Congress.
The race pits Republican Joe Kent, who has been highly visible in the Seattle market and on national television, against the aw-shucks approach of Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez.
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Pérez calls herself “a different breed.” She said being a “rural democrat is kind of a historic anomaly here.”
When examining our election coverage on MyNorthwest, there was one candidate among the state’s key races we didn’t know much about, and that was Gluesenkamp Pérez.
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“I’m a small business owner. I work in the trades. I own an auto repair and a machine shop with my husband,” Pérez told MyNorthwest. “And I think that we need a Congress that looks more like America. We need small business owners. We need rural Americans. We need people who work in the trades.”
Pérez said she doesn’t believe Congress understands the issues the average American faces.
“I think that we have given a lot of oxygen to kind of clickbait politics and failed to resolve the things that really drive our economy, that drive our quality of life, that protect our democracy,” she said.
Pérez and her husband own an auto repair shop on the western side of Skamania County. The couple has a 15-month-old son and she said the pandemic really shined a light on what people were facing.
“I had to bring my child to work because I couldn’t find or afford someone to take care of him,” Pérez said. “These are the things that are facing so many American families like mine, and frankly, that, when taken collectively, are dragging down our economy.”
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Pérez doesn’t believe lawmakers are looking at issues like childcare the right way.
“So many people think about childcare as a woman’s issue. It’s an economic issue,” she said.
Even though Pérez is running as a Democrat, she said she would look beyond party obligations.
“I am really running to be an independent voice for southwest Washington,” she said. “I’m not here to be a cheerleader for any political party.”
Pérez said that her generation saw many of the best public trade schools turn into computer programming schools.
“I don’t know how many computer programmers you hired last week, but I’m willing to bet that a lot of folks listening are on waitlists for electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and those are jobs that can’t be outsourced,” she said. “They are jobs that lead to small business growth. They are green jobs. I think we need to really rethink what it means to have a green job. I think that it’s not just somebody running a recycling center. It is a mechanic stopping an oil leak from going in the river. It is an electrician wiring and a heat pump. It is, you know, somebody installing insulation in the house. So those are drivers of the economy and what drives the long-term health of our economic future.”
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Even though she said we need to come together as a nation, Pérez wasn’t above throwing some shade on her opponent, Republican Joe Kent.
“I think Joe and I are very different candidates. But it is clear that there’s only one moderate on the ballot,” she said. “And that’s me. I’ve been endorsed by a lot of Republicans, a lot of Independents, and lots of Democrats. Joe hasn’t even been endorsed by the elected federal Republicans in our state.
“I think one of the most disturbing things is we don’t know who’s signing my opponent’s checks. The company that he claimed he worked for, for the past two years on 34 different financial disclosure forms, does not exist,” Pérez continued. “And when he corrected that and said, ‘Oh, they actually go by this other name.’ That company doesn’t have a website. They don’t have patents. They don’t have contracts.’ And I think we all deserve to know who paid Joe Kent to run against … me.”
Pérez called herself a “workhorse,” not a “show pony,” taking another not-so-subtle shot at Kent.
Pérez believes the work gets done “in the middle.” She said “extremists” don’t pass bills.
MyNorthwest asked Pérez, considering all the threats against public officials and against candidates and their families, is it worth the price to run?
“It’s absolutely worth it,” Pérez said. “I mean, what’s the cost of not doing it? You know, how much further are we going to let our country slip? We have to do it, we have to do it.”