Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler on Wednesday expanded her lead over Democratic challenger Carolyn Long, assuring her of a fifth term as representative of Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.
Long conceded Wednesday night, and Herrera Beutler declared victory.
“I had a good conversation with Carolyn when she conceded this race tonight, and I told her that I have a lot of respect for the vigorous campaign she ran and that she was a worthy opponent in this election. I’m so honored to have once again earned the trust of Southwest Washington residents who have selected me to serve them in Congress for another term,” Herrera Beutler said in a prepared statement.
She added that “our campaign was successful because voters know of my work to bring about record-low unemployment and the wage growth our workers deserve, prevent unfair tolling, fight for bipartisan solutions to improve health care, and protect fishing for generations to come.”
In a prepared statement, Long said, “What we built on this campaign is greater than one person — it is a movement of folks from all over Southwest Washington that cannot and will not end with this election.”
She said she ran a civil campaign that “I can look back on with pride.”
Long had emphasized the need to improve health care coverage and attacked the 2017 Republican tax cuts for widening the income gap and contributing to the national budget deficit. She described herself as running against Republican “complicity” in President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies.
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Republican Herrera Beutler defended the tax cut and portrayed herself as independent and a champion of regional concerns, such as controlling salmon-gulping sea lions and fighting for fair tolling on any new Interstate 5 bridge to Portland.
The latest count Wednesday night had the incumbent Republican leading by about 13,000 votes, 133,014 to 119,944. That’s up from a 10,000-vote lead on Tuesday night.
Although thousands more ballots were left to count in the eight-county 3rd District, Long had no plausible path to victory. Although she slightly outpolled Herrera Beutler in Clark County — by far the largest in the district — Long trailed her by large margins in Cowlitz, Lewis and Klickitat counties.
Herrera-Beutler took more 55 percent of the vote in Cowlitz County, even though Long campaigned extensively here in person. The incumbent won Lewis County with 68 percent of the vote.
The race garnered national attention and a record amount of campaign spending as Democrats targeted the seat as part is effort to win back control of the House of Representatives.
Long, a political science professor at Washington State University Vancouver, gave Herrera Beutler her biggest challenge since she was elected in 2010. But the district has been growing more Republican for decades, especially Cowlitz County. Long also was battling history: Only once in at least 70 years has a sitting 3rd District incumbent lost a re-election bid.
The candidates were civil to each other in face-to-face meetings, but the campaign featured a capacious volume of negative advertising. Late in the campaign Long took the unusual step of appealing to TV broadcasters to stop running Herrera Beutler ads that she said misrepresented her positions on taxes and health care.