In tight race for Congress, incumbent MGP leads Republican challengers in fundraising

Gluesenkamp Perez campaign reports more than $3 million in cash on hand at the end of March


After pulling off the biggest upset of the 2022 election cycle, data from the first quarter of 2024 shows that Third District Congressional Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Washougal, currently leads fundraising efforts ahead of the 2024 election.

Though the primary election is still roughly three and a half months away, the fundraising totals offer a glimpse into who Southwest Washington residents prefer in a race that could determine control of the House of Representatives.

In a filing to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Gluesenkamp Perez campaign reported more than $3 million in cash on hand at the end of March, Campaign Manager Timothy Gowen said. In the first three months of 2024, the campaign raised $1.1 million.

“Marie refuses to accept corporate PAC money and funds her campaign with the support of thousands of individual donors who know she puts Southwest Washington first and who believe in her independence from party bosses and big business,” Gowen said in a statement to The Chronicle on Wednesday.

Kent, in his second bid for the seat, raised $429,000 in the first three months of 2024, with a total amount raised of $1.9 million in the campaign so far, according to a campaign announcement.

The fundraising figures include the $421,000 raised by the Joe Kent Victory Fund and $8,600 donated directly to the Joe Kent for Congress account.

According to the campaign, the Joe Kent Victory Fund is a joint fundraising committee that includes Joe Kent for Congress, KENT PAC and the Washington state Republican Party.

“I continue to be humbled as Republicans in the district and around the country recognize that my campaign is our very best opportunity to flip a blue seat red,” Kent said in a Tuesday statement announcing his donations from the first quarter of 2024. “We have a long way to go, but I promise our supporters that I’ll work hard through Election Day to defeat Marie Perez and be the common-sense conservative Washington’s 3rd District deserves.”

In his announcement, Kent cited endorsements from the Washington state Republican Party and by each county party in the district.

Painting himself as a political outsider while on the campaign trail, Kent has said his second attempt at public office presents a unique opportunity: the chance to defeat incumbents from both political parties.

In the 2022 August primary, Kent defeated Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who represented the district from 2011 to 2023, before defeat in the general election.

However, that election, decided by fewer than 3,000 votes, could prove problematic, according to the Leslie Lewallen campaign. A Camas city councilor and an attorney, Lewallen announced her run for the district as a Republican in the fall.

In a Wednesday morning press call, organizers cited Kent’s underperformance in the district relative to other Republicans in recent elections, including President Donald Trump and Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley. According to Kristian Hemphill, a lead strategist with the campaign, candidates seeking a rematch against the winning candidate are seldom successful.

“He’s got severe problems with the electorate at large and with the Republican electorate,” Hemphill said.

According to Hemphill, Lewallen had her “best quarter” of fundraising in the first three months of 2024. According to filings with the FEC, the campaign has raised more than $530,000 in total and had nearly $220,000 in cash on hand as of March 31.

Ahead of the Washington state Republican Party Convention, where the state party could double down on the Kent endorsement, the call was organized to show Lewallen’s path to victory.

The early convention in Spokane this week, where the party will endorse candidates for statewide and federal offices, is an attempt by the state GOP to let candidates shift their attention to the general election, and away from an elongated primary season.

In a district that has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in five out of the last six elections, the political jockeying could have major significance some 2,300 miles away.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan website that analyzes American elections and political trends, rates the Third District as one of 22 “toss-up” districts across the country. As of Thursday, the organization considers 203 districts to lean either Democratic or solidly Democratic, with 210 seats considered Republican-leaning or solidly Republican.

With 218 seats constituting a majority, those 22 races in 13 states will likely determine which party controls the gavel in the House.

Americans slightly favor Democrats in a generic congressional election, according to political polling aggregator 538. On Thursday, their rolling average showed 44.8% of Americans would support a generic Democratic candidate compared to 44.3% who would support a Republican.