A liberal group that aims to flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives back to Democrats has added Washington’s 3rd Congressional District to its list of competitive races.
Swing Left, an activist group that helps progressive volunteers find the closest swing district to their ZIP code, announced Thursday that it’s targeting Southwest Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 2018 midterm elections.
The fourth-term congresswoman has won each of her re-election bids by more than 20 points, but next year’s race could prove to be her toughest campaign yet.
Swing Left has raised nearly $3.5 million for the eventual primary winners in 70 different swing districts. Democrats would need to flip at least 24 seats to take back the House in 2018. All 435 House seats are up for re-election in 2018.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it was targeting the 3rd District in February, and a pro-Obamacare group recently cut a digital ad hitting Herrera Beutler for her vote in favor of House Republicans’ sweeping tax bill last month.
The Cook Political Report, a widely respected handicapper of House races, recently rated the district as only slightly more Republican than Democrat.
“There’s obviously a blue wave building in elections across the country,” Swing Left Executive Director Ethan Todras-Whitehill told The Daily News in an email.
Todras-Whitehill said Herrera Beutler’s recent tax vote was one reason why his group is targeting her district.
During a live telephone town hall Tuesday, Herrera Beutler sought to allay constituents’ concerns that the tax code rewrite will balloon the deficit and primarily benefit rich people and corporations. She argued that the plan, which slashes taxes on corporations and doubles the standard deduction for individuals, will create jobs and unleash enough economic growth to pay for itself. A final vote on a negotiated House-Senate tax plan could happen as early as Monday.
Whitehill pointed to an estimate that the House bill would result in nearly 29,000 people losing health insurance in the 3rd District, according to an analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
Whitehill also said Herrera Beutler’s “Trump score“ — a measure calculated by the election forecasting website FiveThirtyEight — could also hurt her next November. Herrera Beutler has voted in favor of President Donald Trump’s agenda 91.1 percent of the time, according to the site.
However, she also broke with her party on House Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act in May and said she would not vote for Trump after a now-infamous Access Hollywood tape revealed him boasting about sexual assault a month before the presidential election.
In a statement to The Daily News, Herrera Beutler said she welcomes the opportunity to have Southwest Washington voters assess her track record.
“As this region’s voice, I am focused on getting results and protecting opportunity for people who live here. The people of Southwest Washington can and should review my track record when they mark their ballots next November — the every-two-years performance review comes with the job,” she said. “I look forward to a good campaign.”
Whitehill said that while Swing Left doesn’t take sides in primaries, the group likes to see active primary challengers step up.
On the Democratic side, four candidates have announced campaigns so far.
Vancouver businessman David McDevitt is running for the second time after losing to state Rep. Jim Moeller in the August primary last year. Iraq war veteran and prominent Bernie Sanders supporter Dorothy Gasque announced her campaign in June. Small business owner and scientist Peter Harrison, who announced in October, is hoping his tech skills give him an edge. And WSU Vancouver professor Carolyn Long held a formal campaign kickoff event at the end of last month.
Of the four challengers, only McDevitt has reported having more than $10,000 in cash on hand, according to recent FEC filings.