Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Carolyn Long won their primary election races Tuesday night, putting a rubber stamp on the rematch that has been all but guaranteed since July 2019.
Long, a Democrat, will again run in the general election against Herrera Beutler, a Battle Ground Republican and five-time incumbent representing Washington’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Based on a preliminary tally of votes Tuesday night, Herrera Beutler earned 48.9 percent of votes in Clark County and Long earned 47.35 percent, a difference of about 1,300 ballots. Across the 3rd District — encompassing Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Skamania and Klickitat counties and part of Thurston County — the congresswoman’s lead was much stronger, at 54.61 percent to Long’s 41.2 percent.
In the county, about a quarter of returned ballots, or 30,000, have yet to be counted. The ballots could tilt the race in Long’s favor within the county, though they’re unlikely to make a dent in Herrera Beutler’s lead districtwide.
Three others have been knocked out of the race. Democrats Davy Ray and Devin Gray and independent Martin Hash collectively took 4 percent of the district’s vote, not near enough to carry any of them through to the general election on Nov. 3.
“I am feeling really happy to be the Democratic nominee looking forward to the general election in November,” Long told The Columbian after results were announced Tuesday evening. “It’s a high turnout in a primary, which shows that people are paying attention.”
Long ran for Herrera Beutler’s seat in 2018 and handed the congresswoman an unexpectedly close race. Herrera Beutler had won the three previous elections by more than 20 points; she defeated Long by a much narrower margin, 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent.
Long declared her intention to run again, early this time around, and announced her campaign in July 2019. It gave her a head start in fundraising and name recognition. She heads into the general election with $1.58 million cash on hand, according to her latest quarter report to the Federal Elections Commission.
Her early start, however, did not translate to a stronger primary election showing. Long’s districtwide share of the electorate Tuesday night was lower than her share in the 2018 primary, when she trailed Herrera Beutler by just 7 percentage points.
Long brushed off the congresswoman’s wide lead, likening the two years to “comparing apples and oranges.”
“Each election cycle is its own beast, and primary electorates are always quite different than general election electorates,” Long said.
Herrera Beutler, too, has been ready for this rematch. She’s reported $1.85 million in on-hand cash and counting, to carry her through to November.
The congresswoman told The Columbian Tuesday night that she’s “thrilled and very humbled.”
“I have not been doing campaign hours. I didn’t put a TV ad up. I didn’t do any parades. I haven’t been doing the traditional things you do for elections. So to have this kind of support at this time, it’s a pretty high honor,” Herrera Beutler said.
Long’s campaign has centered on health care, calling for a low-deductible public insurance option and hammering her opponent for her past votes to roll back the Affordable Care Act. The Washington State University Vancouver professor is also pushing for expanded broadband access into rural areas.
Herrera Beutler has been campaigning on her record, pointing to bipartisan credentials. The congresswoman is also promoting her work to secure loans and grants for businesses hit hard by COVID-19.
She called 2020 an “unhinged year.”
“Honestly, now’s the time when I want to be an elected leader. Anyone can do this when things are easy,” Herrera Beutler said.