3rd District Democratic Congressional Candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez Meets Lewis County Residents at Fair


While babies competed for fame and fortune at the KMNT/KELA Diaper Derby at noon on Thursday at the Southwest Washington Fair, conversations of a more serious nature were taking place under the grandstands.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Washougal, a candidate in the November election to represent Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, was visiting the Lewis County Democrats booth and meeting voters before heading to McFiler’s in Chehalis for a meet-and-greet later that afternoon.

After six terms represented by Jaime Herrera Beutler — one of 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — the district is primed for a shift no matter who is elected.

The other top-two primary vote-getter Joe Kent, R-Battle Ground, has his own campaign booth at the fair. However, volunteers there said he was out of town for the week.

Endorsed by Trump, Kent has had several appearances on Fox News, making his case for Congress on a national stage. With his campaign slogan “America First For Congress,” Kent has spent over a year campaigning on the ideals that the 2020 election was fraudulent and that Herrera Beutler was a “traitor” and a “RINO” — Republican in name only — for her impeachment vote.

In largely-red Lewis County, the question for both Gluesenkamp Perez and Kent appears to be how the candidates will appeal to moderate voters who may have supported Herrera Beutler in the past. As Gluesenkamp Perez mingled with folks on Thursday, one volunteer at the Lewis County Democrats booth admitted he voted for Herrera Beutler in the primary, saying his concern over Kent being elected was even stronger than his desire to oust the tenured Republican congresswoman.

Gluesenkamp Perez said considering her opponent’s stances, “It’s really not about flipping your vote. It’s about looking at the options and realizing that there’s a very profound difference between Joe Kent and I. Joe Kent is an extremist. Extremists cannot get bills passed in Congress.”

She also claimed voters in Lewis County that are paying attention to the issues will find she represents them. An auto-repair mechanic who lives just over the line into unincorporated Skamania County, Gluesenkamp Perez said rural voters have been “tokenized” by politicians for too long.

“I am a rural Democrat who works in the trades. … We have got to start electing small business owners who are actively working to fix the economy, to bring back family wage jobs. We have way too many extremists, doctors and lawyers. We need to have a more representative body in D.C.,” she said, adding later, “It’s very clear that Joe Kent has bent his knee to Donald Trump. That’s who he’s listening to, that’s whose opinion is most important to him. I’m running for Congress because I want to be a voice for people in the district.”

Dean Bolen, 43, of Napavine, and his son Gary, were visiting the booth Thursday to meet the Democratic candidate for the first time.

Bolen considers himself an Independent, but said Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign appealed to him because he thought “She’s bringing sanity back to politics. … She’s going to fight for the little people. I’m the little people.”

A mother of a 1-year-old with a platform focused on being working class, Gluesenkamp Perez is also not entirely green to politics. She previously ran for a seat on the Skamania County Commission, she said, where she “knocked on every door in the county,” adding, “that’s the kind of attention and listening that we’ve got to bring back to politics.”

The Chronicle will continue coverage of the Washington 3rd Congressional race through November with profiles on both candidates as well as coverage of their visits to the area.

To learn more, visit Gluesenkamp Perez’s website at https://marieforcongress.com/, or Kent’s at https://joekentforcongress.com/.