David McDevitt Town Hall

Democratic congressional candidate David McDevitt, left, speaks with Kelso resident Walter Abbott at a town hall event Thursday night.

At a time when political battles are increasingly waged online, David McDevitt is hoping his odometer will carry him to victory in his bid for the 3rd Congressional District.

McDevitt, who’s running to unseat Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, was in town Thursday night for his 25th event in Southwest Washington since March.

Only one person showed for the Vancouver businessman’s discussion at the Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue station in Kelso, but that didn’t discourage McDevitt.

“Thanks for being here,” he told 52-year-old Walter Abbott, a part-time worker at the Kelso Public Library who supported Bernie Sanders for president last year.

At least 500 people in Cowlitz County received telephone calls from volunteers letting them know about the event, he said.

“Even if they didn’t come, they heard my name,” he said.

McDevitt said about 20 people attended a town hall in Long Beach recently and another 18 showed up to an event in Cascade.

McDevitt’s name may sound familiar to those who followed the 2016 Democratic nominating contest. He lost to state Rep. Jim Moeller by 14 points in the state’s top-two primary.

Herrera Beutler went on to trounce Moeller by more than 20 points in the general election with nearly 62 percent of the vote.

She’s won each of her three re-election bids in the Republican-friendly district by at least 20 points, but McDevitt said he’s still confident he can give her a serious challenge if he wins the Democratic nomination.

McDevitt plans to host about 60 town halls by next July.

“I feel really strongly about getting out and meeting with the folks that live in our area,” he said.

With more than a year left before the general election, McDevitt said his campaign already has more than 40 volunteers making between 25 and 50 phone calls per week.

Still, he acknowledged that fundraising is also an essential part of campaigning.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, he’s loaned his campaign $200,000. McDevitt said Thursday that he plans to loan himself another $100,000 by January.

That would give him a huge lead over the other two Democratic candidates who have announced so far: Dorothy Gasque and Peter Harrison.

“A lot of people will try to make hay out of that as if that’s a bad thing,” McDevitt said. “I’m here to tell you it’s not a bad thing. It’s a necessary thing and if anybody is going to have an opportunity to unseat our incumbent, it will be somebody who has the funds.”

Gasque was a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter last year who has raised $9,052 for her campaign and has $4,171 cash on hand, according to FEC filings.

Peter Harrison, another Vancouver-based business owner, reported raising $2,312 in his third-quarter FEC report.

Meanwhile, Herrera Beutler has raised $412,457 and her campaign has $452,333 in cash on hand, according to FEC filings.

Thursday’s one-on-one town hall discussion — which was interrupted by occasional questions from The Daily News — primarily focused on transportation and housing.

McDevitt took aim at Herrera Beutler’s stance against an infrastructure plan in Oregon that could lead to tolling along I-5 and I-205.

Herrera Beutler has said she’s not opposed to the idea of tolling but secured an amendment in a House appropriations bill that would prevent the Federal Highway Administration from approving money for any tolling at the state line.

McDevitt said Oregon and Washington need to work together in the same way New York and New Jersey cooperate through a joint transportation authority.

The arrangement, which was created by an act of Congress, allows the governors of each state to appoint six members to a board and veto any of its decisions.

On housing, McDevitt said the federal government has a moral imperative to ensure that Americans have roofs over their heads.

“There are people with Section 8 housing, they’ve got vouchers, and they can’t find a place here because there’s nothing within the budget of the voucher to rent,” Abbott told him.

As a member of Congress, McDevitt said he would fight against the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the Housing and Urban Development budget.

HUD funding goes to housing authorities that distribute Section 8 vouchers to low-income renters at the county level, McDevitt noted.

“If the money isn’t there, how’s it going to get handled?” he said.

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