Joe Kent endorses Jaime Herrera Beutler’s bid for public lands post

Congressional candidate was previously fiercely critical of former congresswoman


As he makes a second bid for public office, congressional candidate Joe Kent has endorsed the previous Third Congressional District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in her bid for Washington state public lands commissioner.

The endorsement comes after Kent was previously highly critical of Herrera Beutler, specifically her vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

"There's no denying she's got a great record on public lands,” Kent said in a statement to The Chronicle. “She is a strong Republican candidate for this job and I will do whatever I can to help her win."

The state commissioner of public lands is tasked with managing nearly six million acres of public land throughout the state. In a March 30 email to The Chronicle, Kent said he was formally endorsing Herrera Beutler, saying, “The need for experienced leadership in forest management and wildfire prevention has never been more apparent.”

Herrera Beutler, a Republican like Kent, previously represented the Third Congressional District from 2011 to 2023, before narrowly losing to Kent in the 2022 August primary. Kent later lost to Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in the general election.

“In Congress, she had a proven track record of fighting for resources to manage our forests, specifically to remove the dead and diseased trees that fuel these catastrophic fires,” Kent said. “Her work upgrading forest roads also helped preserve and create thousands of good paying jobs in rural communities.”

In the endorsement, Kent said the state is “plagued by overgrowth and disease, making them susceptible to the devastating wildfires we've increasingly faced each summer.

“These fires not only threaten our homes and communities but also release massive amounts of pollution, exacerbate housing affordability issues, and diminish the quality of our air,” Kent said.

Herrera Beutler is not facing an incumbent in her campaign for statewide office. Current Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz initially announced a run for governor, later dropping out and shifting focus to the Sixth Congressional District, which spans the Olympic Peninsula.

As of Tuesday, eight candidates have filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

Herrera Beutler has raised $280,918.64 in her bid for commissioner, the second most in the field. King County Council Chair Dave Upthegrove has raised the most so far, bringing in $286,987.20.

Other candidates in the race include state Sens. Kevin Van De Wege and Rebecca Saldana, former State Sen. Mona Das, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director of Tribal Relations Patrick DePoe, and 2020 Republican candidate Sue Kuehl Pederson.

According to PDC records, Washington state Wildland Fire and Forest Resiliency Liaison Allen Lebovitz registered his campaign on March 14.

A top-two primary will be held on Aug. 6 to decide which two candidates advance to the Nov. 5 general election.