Cowlitz County Republican leaders have joined their counterparts in Clark County, asking six-term GOP congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to resign, and vowing to find a replacement for her in 2022 if she doesn’t.
The request sent last week was triggered by Herrera Beutler’s Jan. 13 vote to impeach former president Donald Trump, one of 10 Republican members of the House to join Democrats in the vote.
Trump told a cheering Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in Florida Sunday that Republicans need to “get rid of” all members of Congress who supported his removal from office for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection and mob assault on the U.S. Capitol. He mentioned all, including Herrera Beutler, by name.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Cowlitz County Republican Central Committee unanimously voted to withdraw its support for Herrera-Beutler “as our elected representative,” and to send her a letter asking that she resign.
In a statement on Monday, the committee also said the letter told the Clark County Republican “we have immediately begun looking for her replacement – someone who will support America first.”
“You have cast votes and made decisions that are an antithesis to our Core Republican Party Values with your vote to impeach former President Donald Trump,” the letter read.
In response, a spokesman for Herrera Beutler said Monday, “It appears Jaime’s opponents are running on debunked election conspiracies and anger that she voted to uphold the Constitution and tell the truth.”
“Defending an insurrection that left five people dead and telling tall tales to explain a lost election is not a winning campaign platform for Southwest Washington,” said spokesman Craig Wheeler. “The CCRCC made the wrong decision, but it won’t change the truth that Jaime is still a Republican and a conservative, and that she’s still working hard every day to make life better for the people of Southwest Washington.”
The committee isn’t wasting any time getting a jump on the 2022 congressional campaign, hosting three GOP challengers at a “Community Action Night” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, at the Republican Party headquarters, 314 Academy St., Kelso.
The three Clark County Republicans who announced they are running for Herrera Beutler’s seat – Joe Kent, Wadi Yakhour and Heidi St. John – will speak to the group as a first step in seeking an endorsement before the 2022 primary 18 months away, county chair Christy Tseu said in a statement.
The goal, say party leaders, is “anybody but Jaime.”
Later in the month, on March 23, the precinct officers of the county committee will be taking a vote to endorse “Candidate and Office Holder Standards for CCRCC Support.”
What’s at stake isn’t just a powerful public endorsement and the volunteers that go along with it, but thousands of dollars in campaign funds. Herrera Beutler received more than $1 million in television ads from national Republican campaign coffers in 2020. Also, Trump has amassed millions in campaign funds, with $200 million in donations this year, some of which he is expected to use to help take revenge on his 2021 GOP opponents in 2022.
There is money on the other side. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that a new anti-Trump group led by Republicans vows to raise $50 million to encourage lawmakers to break with Trump. “Behind the project is Defending Democracy Together, one of the biggest ‘dark money’ groups in the 2020 election cycle,” the center said in a report.
The new effort — the Republican Accountability Project — promises to use its cash to “ensure that ample resources are available for those principled Republicans who do the right thing and hold Trump accountable for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
The first visible sign of the emerging intra-party battle appeared this month on Tennant Way in Longview, “Thank you, Rep. Herrera Beutler for defending the Constitution,” paid for by the accountability project.
Jerry Cooper, vice chair of the Cowlitz Republicans, said local conservatives who are “anti-abortion, pro-family with strong Christian beliefs,” are the core of local Republican candidates’ support.