Kent, Perez to Face Off in 3rd Congressional District Debate in October


In early October, political newcomers Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Joe Kent are slated to argue why they should win the vote in Washington's hotly contested 3rd Congressional District race.

The Clark, Klickitat-Skamania, Lewis and Cowlitz County League of Women Voters chapters invited Perez, D-Skamania, and Kent, R-Yacolt, to face off at 2 p.m. Oct. 7 in advance of the November general election. The date and time are subject to change.

Washington's 3rd Congressional District gained nationwide attention after incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, voted for then-President Donald Trump's impeachment for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Kent, her top Republican challenger, gained the former president's endorsement and makes frequent appearances on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" and Steve Bannon's "War Room," propelling him into the local and national limelight.

Perez previously said Kent's campaign is deeply rooted in fearmongering, relying on conspiracies and extreme political polarization to gain support. On the other hand, Kent is steadfast in his mission to dismantle "the establishment" and unify his party.

Now, they must build upon their name recognition through town halls, event appearances and debates to secure those who voted for Herrera Beutler in the primary election.

Five journalists from news outlets throughout the district will serve as panelists for the debate. League officials said the event will be held virtually to accommodate the candidates' travel plans, as well as the panelists' locations.

"The 3rd Congressional District serves a diverse region," wrote Nancy Halvorson, Clark County League of Women Voters president, in a statement. "And we are including journalists from throughout the district to make sure the candidates address issues that are of concern to all of their potential constituents."

The 75-minute event will be aired on regional government-access cable channels, Clark/Vancouver Television and Kelso-Longview Television, as well as TVW, Washington's public affairs network. Independent and commercial radio and television stations may also air the debate if they obtain links from the League.

Staffers from The Columbian, Skamania County Pioneer, Chinook Observer in Ilwaco, Longview Daily News and Chronicle in Centralia will fill the panel. League officials will screen panelists' questions to ensure they are appropriate and void of bias. Topics for questions will be derived from the journalists, as well as the public.

Herrera Beutler conceded her reelection race a week after the Aug. 2 primary election, as vote tallies showed Kent held an insurmountable lead. Certified election results show that Perez was the top vote-getter in the district. She had 68,190 votes, or 31.01 percent of 219,925 tallied ballots, and Kent had 50,097 votes, or 22.78 percent.