With a focus on public safety, congressional candidates release first campaign ads


As election season prepares to enter high gear, two candidates hoping to represent Southwest Washington in Congress have unveiled campaign ads solely focused on public safety.

In separate announcements Monday morning, both Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, and Camas City Councilor Leslie Lewallen said they would focus on public safety if elected. The announcement comes ahead of an election cycle in the Third Congressional District that is expected to be among the most contested in the country.

In a 30-second ad titled ‘I Can and I Will,’ Lewallen argues that she, not fellow Republican candidate Joe Kent, is best positioned to beat Gluesenkamp Perez.

“Washington families have had enough of the radical left’s agenda, which is allowing lethal drugs to flood into our cities and, as a result, hurting our communities. Joe Kent had his chance to put an end to this, but he lost and will lose again if he is our nominee. We need to put an end to Portland Perez’s radical agenda, which is why I am stepping up,” Lewallen said in a statement. “We need someone in Washington who will put our country first and be a voice for the constituents of the Third Congressional District, and that’s exactly what I promise to do.”

In the ad, Lewallen claims homelessness, “drug dens” and crime are “spreading” from Portland into Southwest Washington as a result of Gluesenkamp Perez.

“Joe Kent can’t stop her,” Lewallen said in the ad. “He had his chance, and he lost.”

Kent, who spent the weekend campaigning in Chehalis and Battle Ground, has largely avoided discussing other Republicans while on the campaign trail, instead focusing his messaging on Gluesenkamp Perez. When asked by a reporter about Lewallen during a May campaign stop in Centralia, Kent said he had “no desire to get into a back and forth with another Republican.”

“I’m looking to take down the Democrat,” Kent said on May 28. “Because the Democrats are destroying our country.”

At the campaign event, Kent said he wanted to focus on Gluesenkamp Perez’s record as he sought a potential rematch.

“I want to run heavily on her record because when you’re untested, she could essentially say whatever she wanted to last time,” Kent said of Gluesenkamp Perez on May 28. “So, highlighting her record is key because her voting record is part and parcel with the Biden agenda that’s destroying the country.”

As she gears up for her first reelection campaign, Gluesenkamp Perez also released her first ad of the 2024 cycle, though outside groups have spent months advertising for her. The ad, which is solely focused on Kent, highlights Gluesenkamp Perez’s bipartisan record and support from the Washington Council of Police & Sheriff’s Deputies.

“Marie Perez is taking on the Biden administration and working with Republicans to secure the Southern border and improve public safety,” a narrator says in the ad titled “Keep Us Safe.”

The ad from Gluesenkamp Perez includes an appearance by Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders, who said Gluesenkamp Perez is “delivering the tools and the manpower we need to tackle fentanyl.”

“I’m Marie Perez, and I approve this message to do whatever it takes to secure the border and keep Southwest Washington safe,” Gluesenkamp Perez says at the end of the ad.

While the ad was the first for the Gluesenkamp Perez campaign, outside groups have poured thousands into the race. Together for Progress, a SuperPAC organized by Fuse Washington, has spent $135,000 this year to support Gluesenkamp Perez, according to a news release.

“As an auto body repair shop owner, Marie understands that our kids need access to a wider range of job opportunities and that good-paying jobs and skilled workers are a recipe for strong communities,” Aaron Ostrom, executive director of Fuse Washington, said in a June 13 news release. “We think voters should know how hard Marie is working for them, and how her personal experience helps her represent them as a congresswoman.”