U.S. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler knows a tough crowd.
The federal representative faced backlash from her own political party when Republicans ran against her for what would have been her seventh term in Washington, D.C. Herrera Beutler voted to impeach then-president Donald Trump, which caused GOP candidates to run against her. They included the former U.S. Special Forces soldier Joe Kent, who picked up one of the top-two spots in the primary election.
Kent ended up losing in the November general election, allowing Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez to flip the district for the first time since Herrera Beutler was elected in 2010.
Herrera Beutler was not at all sidelined when it came to one of her major pushes to secure federal funds for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. In what might be her last public appearance as a congresswoman, Herrera Beutler welcomed the opening of an administrative and multipurpose building at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, Dec. 16.
“There were federal ups and downs. There were a lot of hiccups,” Herrera Beutler said. “To see it come physically, to walk through it, it’s pretty exciting.”
When asked about her more than a decade in Congress, Herrera Beutler focused on her work to bring funds to Southwest Washington. In some cases, she wasn’t sure if she would ever see the push for funding come to fruition.
“You don’t always get to see the end of a project,” Herrera Beutler said.
Herrera Beutler’s political life began before she served in Congress. She represented Washington’s 18th Legislative District from 2007 to 2010. She said the first time she was involved in finding funding for large projects was when she helped secure money to complete the Ridgefield interchange on Interstate 5.
“It’s so many things like that where I know it’s making a difference in the lives of people,” Herrera Beutler said.
Herrera Beutler narrowly lost in the August primary to Kent, who made routine appearances on Fox News talk shows.
The congresswoman said she wasn’t in it for Twitter reactions or other social media metrics. She said the results she has seen through her legislative work make it all worth it.
“This is the kind of thing that for me I can say … my team and I, we put in everything,” Herrera Beutler said. “We did a good job and got stuff done that I know will have a lasting impact on those communities.”
She said weighing in on the crisis of the day isn’t effective governance. She instead pointed to her work on overlooked issues such as infrastructure.
The congresswoman noted although she won’t be returning to the seat during the next cycle, her work isn’t done. She said passing the appropriations bills to fund the government is a top priority.
The looming question of the congresswoman’s future in politics goes unanswered.
“I don’t know,” Herrera Beutler said about future political prospects.
The 44-year-old noted she still has decades of time to continue being a government leader.
“I’m like ‘retire?’ No,” Herrera Beutler said. “As for what I’m going to do, I wish I knew.”
Herrera Beutler noted when she first started serving at the state level of government, she had a one-word last name. She got married in 2008 and has since had three kids. The possibility of not having to criss-cross the country for the immediate future is enticing.
“I’d be surprised if I didn’t do something again at some point,” Herrera Beutler said. “When and how … I’m not making any plans.”