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Southwest Washington voters re-elect Rep. Herrera Beutler to fifth term

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 8, 2018

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, talks Tuesday with the media at the Clark County Public Service Center. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian / Alisha Jucevic/Columbian)
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, talks Tuesday with the media at the Clark County Public Service Center. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian / Alisha Jucevic/Columbian)
By Katy Sword Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

Southwest Washington voters have elected Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, to serve a fifth term in Congress.

Just minutes after the latest round of ballots were tallied in Clark County Wednesday evening, Democratic candidate Carolyn Long conceded.

With only 10,000 votes separating the candidates for the 3rd Congressional District after election night, all eyes were on Wednesday’s returns.

The spread only widened and Long’s chances at taking the Republican’s seat grew even dimmer. Herrera Beutler ended Wednesday with 52.58 percent of the vote to Long’s 47.42 percent in a district that covers all or part of eight Southwest Washington counties.

To have overcome Herrera Beutler’s election night margin, Long needed to win about 60 percent of the remaining votes.

That didn’t happen.

In fact, in Clark County, the only county where Long was ahead on Tuesday, Herrera Beutler closed the gap from 4 percentage points to about 2.5 points. With an estimated 30,000 votes left in Clark County and about 53,000 votes left in the district, Long now would need to win about 65 percent of the remaining votes to overcome Herrera Beutler’s lead.

Although Long gave Herrera Beutler a closer race than any of her previous campaigns, the 3rd Congressional District remains solidly red, as it has since the last district lines were drawn following the 2010 census. In 2016, Donald Trump won the district by nearly 6 points.

As results continued to trickle in throughout the day Wednesday, results shifted minimally. Herrera Beutler’s lead grew in some counties and diminished in others, but the overall margin only changed by 1 percentage point.

Long did make some inroads in the more rural parts of the district, taking a few percentage points off Herrera Beutler’s previous wins. In 2014, for example, Herrera Beutler won Lewis County with 77.5 percent, instead of the 68 percent she has so far.

She was also the first Democratic challenger since Herrera Beutler took office to take more than 40 percent of the vote.

Herrera Beutler said she’s honored to once again have the trust of Southwest Washington voters.

“I had a good conversation with Carolyn when she conceded this race tonight, and I told her that I have a lot of respect for the vigorous campaign she ran and that she was a worthy opponent in this election,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement. “I’ve always worked to be a public servant who solves local problems and makes our region’s priorities my priorities, and that will be my approach in this next Congress.”

Long related her success to the grassroots efforts of her campaign.

“What we’ve built on this campaign is greater than one person — it’s a movement of folks from all over Southwest Washington that cannot and will not end with this election,” Long said in a statement. “We ran a civil campaign that I can look back on with pride knowing that we stayed focused on the issues that matter to people in my district.”

Long said on election night that she promised former Democratic Rep. Brian Baird she would take back his seat — a promise she intends to keep.

“I’ll continue fighting until I do,” Long said Tuesday.

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