Most of Washington’s congressional incumbents prevailed in Tuesday’s general election, but a few districts may still hold some surprises as more votes are counted in the coming days.
The two that most people are watching: the 3rd Congressional District where Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler lost in the primary and the 8th Congressional District where U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier is seeking another term.
Republican Party Chair Caleb Heimlich said they were still watching both the 3rd and 8th Congressional Districts and urged patience as all votes are counted.
“We’ve got to count every vote and then see where the dust settles,” he said.
In the 3rd, Republican Joe Kent, an “America First” Trump supporter, is hoping to beat Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a small business owner from Skamania County.
Gluesenkamp Perez led Kent after Wednesday with more ballots left to be counted.
Kent gained on Gluesenkamp Perez only slightly in Wednesday’s counts. Gluesenkamp Perez had 52.3% of the vote after the second county. Kent had 47.1%.
Heimlich pointed out that Kent was behind on primary night in August but ended up beating Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Republicans voted late this year, just like they did during the August primary, Heimlich said.
At their election night watch party, State Democrats were hopeful that Gluesenkamp Perez would end up winning, though they acknowledged it was too close to call.
Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said there still were a number of races that they would be watching “very carefully.”
Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, said in an interview last week he was closely watching the 3rd Congressional District race as it could be a signal for the rest of the country as to whether there were any moderate Republicans left who would vote for a Democrat or sit out, instead of voting for a Trump-backed candidate such as Kent.
On Wednesday, Clayton said he was surprised to see the initial results in the 3rd but that if Kent loses it could follow similar trends across the country this midterm where Trump-endorsed Republicans lost.
“Joe Kent is a pretty extreme candidate,” he said. “We could see a significant number of moderate Republicans sitting this one out.”
Still, Clayton acknowledged that the remaining votes could end up going for Kent giving him the win. He said he anticipates the remaining ballots will lean Republican, but not as much as they did in 2020 because more Republicans were comfortable early voting this year and because young voters, who tend to vote last minute, mobilized this election.
The race in the 8th Congressional District could end up being just as close as Schrier holds a slim lead ahead of Republican opponent Matt Larkin.
The contest held steady after counting on Wednesday.
Schrier, who was the first Democrat elected in her district in 2018, had more than 52.5% of the vote and Larkin, an attorney who co-owns his family’s manufacturing business, had more than 47.2% of the vote.
At the state Democrats’ election night party, Schrier told supporters that she was feeling “pretty darn good” Tuesday, though she did acknowledge there were a lot more ballots left to count.
At the State Republicans’ election night party, Larkin told supporters he was “right where we want to be” with more votes still to count, according to the Seattle Times.
Clayton said he expects Schrier to win, but that it will depend on where the votes come from.
“If this had been a red-wave election, that seat definitely would’ve been a flip, but given the fact that Patty Murray outperformed almost all the polling, you would expect Schrier to win as well,” he said.
In Washington’s other Congressional Districts, incumbents easily held on to their seats.
Eastern Washington Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers led their candidates by more than 30 percentage points and almost 20 percentage points, respectively, after counting on Wednesday.
Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Adam Smith and Marilyn Strickland were all expected to win.
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