Challenger Joe Kent gained on U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in vote counts released Friday, leaving the six-term incumbent teetering on the brink of defeat amid the backlash over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse has for now survived his impeachment vote, advancing to face Democrat Doug White this fall, as Trump-backed challenger Loren Culp placed third.
Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, had been in second place since election night, which would secure her a spot on the general election ballot in southwest Washington’s 3rd District.
But Kent, her Trump-endorsed challenger, has surged in later tallies, cutting deeply into Herrera Beutler’s lead and threatening to push her into third place.
As of Friday evening, Herrera Beutler had 22.6% of the vote to Kent’s 22.5% — a margin of just 257 votes. Kent had trailed by 1,945 on Thursday. An estimated 30,000 ballots remain to be counted in Clark County, the district’s population center.
Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez remained in first place with about 31% of the vote, leaving her headed for a November matchup against either Kent or Herrera Beutler.
If it remains this close, the race will be subject to a mandatory recount.
A machine recount is required if the difference between the two candidates is less than 2,000 votes and also less than a half of 1% percent of the total votes cast for the candidates. A manual recount is required if the candidates are separated by fewer than 150 votes and less than a quarter of 1% of the total votes for both candidates.
Kent’s momentum came in late ballots despite a deluge of more than $4 million in outside PAC spending aimed at rescuing Herrera Beutler. Some of the money fueled ads boosting another Republican challenger and Kent rival, Heidi St. John, who placed fourth in the race.
In central Washington’s 4th District, Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, managed to clear the primary despite joining Herrera Beutler and eight other Republicans in voting to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6., 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Newhouse was in first place with about 25.5% of the vote, narrowly ahead of Democrat Doug White, at 25.4%. The Seattle Times has called the race for White and Newhouse.
Culp, the former small-town police chief and 2020 gubernatorial candidate, was in third place with 21%, as the anti-Newhouse vote among Republicans was split among six challengers.
County canvassing boards are set to certify results Aug. 16. The statewide results must be certified by the secretary of state by Aug. 19.