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Carolyn Long announces bid for congressional seat

Carolyn Long greets a crowd at the Longview Women's Club Monday afternoon before announcing her second attempt to unseat Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler.

Carolyn Long, a Vancouver Democrat and political science professor, announced early Monday that she plans to run a second time against Southwest Washington Congresswoman Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler after losing a competitive race against her last year.

About 90 people attended Long’s rally at the Longview Women’s Club Monday afternoon, during which she laid out a campaign on affordable healthcare, low-cost prescription drugs, investment in infrastructure, creating family-wage jobs and addressing climate change.

Long highlighted her childhood growing up in a rural Oregon community and working at her parents’ produce stand. Her parents taught her that what makes America “wonderful” is its commitment to “democracy, decency, integrity and fairness,” she said.

“I strongly believe what my parents taught me: that democracy is worth fighting for. We cannot allow our government institutions to be corrupted by money, by nepotism or by self-centered politicians,” she said.

Long, who has committed to not accepting corporate PAC donations, said the country needs to hold members of Congress accountable for “not doing their jobs.”

“I’m so concerned that our constitutional system of separation of powers and checks and balances is falling apart because politicians in Congress are more concerned about politics and their own reelection than doing their constitutional responsibility to uphold the law,” she said.

One of the loudest cheers during the rally came after Long said she would fix the “broken” healthcare system and protect a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion.

“Reproductive freedom is under attack today. Dozens of states across the country are trying to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” she said.

In her most direct attack on Herrera Beutler, Long said the incumbent voted more than 40 times to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and its protections for pre-existing conditions.

“What you shouldn’t support is politicians like Jaime Herrera Beutler happily taking campaign donations and then marching orders from pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies,” she said, to loud boos. “It’s no wonder she votes their way and not our way.”

“It’s the first day of her campaign and Jaime’s opponent is already misleading voters. She knows Jaime has led efforts in Congress to make health care affordable and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” said Herrera Beutler’s campaign spokesperson Angie Riesterer.

Herrera Beutler defeated Long in 2018 with 53% of the vote to secure her fifth term representing the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Clark, Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Skamania and Klickitat counties, and also part of Thurston County.

Long campaigned heavily in Cowlitz County in 2018 but ended up losing the county to the incumbent, who won here with 56% percent of the vote. However, Clark County has the vast majority of the 3rd District electorate, and Long won there by capturing 51% of the vote to 49% for Herrera Beutler. But that was not enough to overcome Herrera Beutler’s margins in the other counties of the 3rd District.

“Jaime will run on her track record of solving problems, from job creation to affordable health care to salmon recovery. We’re confident that Southwest Washington voters will look at Jaime’s long list of positive accomplishments and see fit to return her to office,” Riesterer said.

Earlier this spring, Democrat Peter Khalil, a professional mediator from Vancouver, announced his own bid to challenge Herrera Beutler in 2020.

“This campaign is not about any one candidate. It’s about a movement in the country to make voices heard on the issues that are most important to us, such as ‘Medicare for All,’ immediate action on climate change and getting the corrupting influence of money out of politics,” Khalil told TDN Monday morning. “We’re ecstatic to have high minded conversation in this race and we are excited for people to enter the race generally.”

Khalil said his anti-corruption efforts differ from Long’s more bipartisan approach.

“I think the results of the last cycle are not testimony to whether a Democrat can win. They’re testimony to the fact that we needed a better candidate,” he said.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who spoke at all three of Long’s Monday rallies in Centralia, Longview and Vancouver, told TDN that Long’s narrow loss last year was impressive.

“Carolyn has a message that resonates with the voters of this district,” he said. “Her first time running, she got within five points of the incumbent. That speaks to the success of the candidate.”

Ferguson later told the crowd that he supports Long because she’s smart, hardworking and knows the district from 40 town halls during the last election.

“She’s a fighter for everyday Washingtonians. Back in D.C., we have lobbyists there for powerful interests,” Ferguson said. “We need someone in Congress looking out for Southwest Washingtonians.”

Longview Democrat Sen. Dean Takko, who introduced Ferguson at Long’s rally, said he supported Long in 2018 and will again in 2020 because he likes her “pragmatic” approach.

“She’s not out on the extremes on issues,” he told TDN before the event. “She wants to find ground where you can get stuff done on issues that matter like healthcare or the environment or education.”

If elected, Long said she would invest in higher education, clean renewable energy and infrastructure projects such as improvements to the Interstate 5 bridge.

“Science shows us that climate change is real,” she said. “If we don’t start addressing it now, the implications of it — the forest fires and the flooding — will have a dramatic impact on all our lives.”

Long also said she wants to improve access to affordable high-speed internet, support for veterans and protections for members of the LGBTQ community, and she wants to end the trade wars.

“(Ferguson) said I’m a fighter, and I am. I’m going to fight to the bitter end to take this seat from Jaime Herrera Beutler.”

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