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Washington’s 3rd Congressional District stretches more than 275 miles from the shores of Long Beach to the rolling hills of Alderdale, encompassing all the uniqueness, diversity and beauty of Southwest Washington: Pacific, Wahkiakum, Lewis, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat counties, plus a piece of Thurston County.
The district includes urban Vancouver, rural Centralia, volcanic Mount St. Helens, and blue-collar Longview/Kelso. Its politics are decidedly parochial rather than partisan, where local issues, not party preference usually hold sway. The 3rd District’s people have defied stereotypes and its politics have upset predictions. The Columbia River forms its southern boundary, unites its communities and connects its commerce with the world.
We are neither red nor blue – and purple doesn’t encompass the shades of our politics.
We are best represented by politicians who listen and respond to their constituents, to leaders who ride the waves of our local tides and represent all of the people – the independents and those who lean left and right. We are by definition bipartisan and by nature independent.
Jaime Herrera Beutler has been our representative in Congress since the 2010 election, and is seeking a sixth term serving Southwest Washington.
When assessing candidates, in this year especially, it is important to focus on legislative qualities rather than on campaign rhetoric, which often is funded and written by the national parties on both sides.
Herrera Beutler has survived, even thrived as our representative for a decade because she has demonstrated a willingness to be bipartisan and independent in Congress and to represent the interests of our mix of urban, suburban, rural, coastal and mountain constituencies equally.
As a recent Los Angeles Times article pointed out, she is the last remaining Republican who represents a congressional seat that touches the Pacific Ocean. She is one of three Republicans in Washington’s Congressional delegation in a Congress that is likely to shift to an even larger Democratic majority next week. And she represents what may be the last best hope for a moderate/conservative, non-tribal Republican Party to emerge from the vitriol of this pandemic year. Her re-election has both symbolic and real importance for her party, the state and the U.S.
Herrera Beutler balances the 3rd District in another way: offsetting the most blue portion of our electorate, Vancouver, where more than 60 percent of district voters live. While she lives in Clark County, as long as she recognizes that she needs to look north and west for her support, we are in a better position to have her ear.
Former Sen. Richard Lugar and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy Dean Edward Montgomery have given Herrera Beutler solid – albeit recently slipping – bipartisan ratings. The Lugar rating seeks to identify legislators who “prioritize problem solving and are open to working with the other party when possible.”
In our view, this describes Herrera Beutler’s approach to politics, and one that Congress needs more of.
In the most recent bipartisan rating of 2019, the 3rd District incumbent fell out of the top third in the rankings, to 152nd, slightly below where she was rated in the 2013-14 Congress. But the rest of her previous bipartisan scores were exceptional: 33rd in 2017-18 (15th in 2017), and 26th for 2015-16 (31st in 2015. We have every reason to believe that, more than ever, Herrera Beutler will represent a conciliatory face of the GOP in a Democratic-controlled House.
Another way of documenting Herrera Beutler’s independent streak is to look at how often she votes against legislation supported by her party leadership, when it is in either a majority or minority position.
The non-profit, nonpartisan ProPublica reports that In the current 2019-20 Congressional term, with Republicans in the minority, Herrera Beutler voted 93 times (12.8%), against bills endorsed by the party leadership. This ranked her as the 27th most likely GOP congress member to vote against a party-sponsored bill. This reversed a trend of hers in the preceding four terms, and indicates she is becoming more pragmatic and recognizes the realities of her minority position.
In 2016, when we endorsed Herrera Beutler – and when she announced she was voting against Donald Trump — we praised her because she had voted against a Republican health care plan and objected to how it proposed to handle Medicaid. Early on she had voted repeatedly to kill the Affordable Care Act, but in this campaign season she has embraced the ACA, especially its coverage of pre-existing conditions. In our 2016 and our 2018 endorsements, we praised her “bipartisan streak” and there is ample evidence she continues in this mindset. She is an active member of a bi-partisan caucus.
We continue to see a representative who has responded favorably to the district’s needs, regardless of which political party controlled the House.
Jaime Herrera Beutler has the experience, energy and district knowledge to benefit our 3rd District, and Cowlitz County in particular. We said this in 2016 and 2018, and we say it again in 2020.