For years, a congressional seat in a Republican district in southwest Washington has evaded Democrats. Now, with the incumbent congresswoman ousted over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump, they have a slim chance in a race that has pitted an “America First” Republican against a rural Democrat.
The tough battle in the 3rd Congressional District is a key race for both parties as the House is up for grabs amid an environment of increasing polarization.
Long-time Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. She finished third in the August primary, where the top two finishers win a chance to face off in the general election, regardless of party.
Now Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Trump-endorsed Republican Joe Kent are fighting for the seat.
Herrera Buetler took 22% percent of the vote in the primary. Which candidate her supporters opt for next month will be key in determining whether Republicans retain the seat or Democrats score an upset, said Mark Stephan, an associate professor of political science at Washington State University-Vancouver.
“Even though Republicans continue to dominate the 3rd District, they are split in their perspectives,” he said. “This is a Republican district, and it will be for a while. But there’s this small sliver of chance for the Democrats now.”
Today’s Question: Who does a U.S. senator represent?
Senators represent all the people of their state. Each state has two senators who are elected by citizens of their state.
But that was not originally the case, nor is it that simple, especially with so much money involved in winning a Senate campaign.
Senators were not always elected by voters. The 17th Amendment gave that power to the people in 1912 after decades of senators being selected by state legislators. The amendment was one of several – including the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th and 24th – spearheaded by progressives who shifted constitutional theory away from what the framers envisioned to one that better democratized American politics at the time, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service.
At the time of the 17th Amendment, there was a lot of concern about corruption within state legislatures, Clayton said. After the Civil War, senatorial candidates were campaigning for state legislative candidates through “public canvass” in an attempt to get legislators who might elect them into the Senate into the legislature. The amendment was an attempt to hinder the corruption of state legislatures that were controlled by big-money interests like railroad and mining corporations.
“Progressives wanted to reform this primarily to remove some of the corruption of state legislatures in the control of the U.S. Senate, but also to deal with some of the dysfunction created by a closely divided electorate and closely held elections,” he said. “And that’s what the 17th Amendment represents. It’s about democratizing American politics.”
Senators have to weigh the interests of the people in their state and the best interests for the country, said Travis Ridout, professor at Washington State University’s School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. The federal government has the ability to regulate gas prices, and state citizens would probably like that, but lowering prices might increase gas consumption and the ill consequences of climate change. These are the dilemmas senators can face.
Washington voters will soon decide whether to elect their first Democratic secretary of state in six decades or, instead, send a longtime county auditor to be the state’s first nonpartisan chief elections officer.
Republicans were shut out of the state’s top-two primary in August, which sent current Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and nonpartisan Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson to the general election.
Hobbs was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last November to replace Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman once she took a key election security job in the Biden administration. While his appointment marked the first time a Democrat held the office since the mid-1960s, Hobbs has not yet faced voters, so November’s election will determine who serves the last two years of Wyman’s term.
“It’s obviously a sea change for the office given the fact that it’s been in Republican hands for so long,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University. Where voters will land this year, he said, “is just very hard to predict.”
Clayton said adding to the uncertainty was the write-in campaign of Republican Rep. Brad Klippert, whose name won’t appear on the ballot but who has been endorsed by the state Republican Party and could potentially pull enough votes to make a difference in a tight race between Hobbs and Anderson. Unlike Wyman, who lauded the state’s election system and security, Klippert is among those who have echoed election fraud conspiracies and wants to do away with the state’s mail voting system and require in-person voting.
In her first political campaign, Republican Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley is going after Washington state’s most well-known institutions.
For one, Patty Murray, the Democratic senator who has held the seat for the last 30 years and is seeking a sixth term. The Seattle Seahawks, Starbucks and The Seattle Times, home-grown, big-name organizations that she dismisses as “woke corporations” for not wanting her to use their logos in her ads. The city of Seattle, which she’s denounced as liberal and crime-ridden.
Smiley’s broad range of targets illustrates the combative approach she has brought to her campaign, a strategy that may at first seem counterintuitive to her efforts to draw in support from enough voters to oust Murray.
Murray has also run a slew of negative ads against Smiley, saying the Republican’s anti-abortion stance could threaten women’s rights and also trying to tie her to extremist elements within the GOP.
Cornell Clayton, a political scientist at Washington State University and director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, said while people say they dislike it when campaigns go negative, such ads work.
“Attack ads provoke stronger emotional responses from voters and are more effective at motivating behavior,” Clayton said in an email.
Heidi Ganahl is the only Republican to advertise on television
As ballots head out to voters across the state this week, Coloradans can expect a continued flurry of campaign advertisements to hit their televisions, streaming services and internet browsers as candidates for statewide office push their messages.
It is an industry that involves tens of millions of dollars in Colorado. Colorado Newsline analyzed political television advertisement contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission from the eight major party candidates for statewide offices across seven channels. The broadcast channels included are CBS4, 9NEWS, Denver 7, FOX31, KWGN, KRDO and KKTV.
That analysis did not include outside advertising spending, which accounts for many more millions of dollars spent by third-party groups supporting or opposing certain candidates.
Across the board, however, candidates widely try to advertise during local news in the morning and evening and during the shows immediately after.
“Traditionally, local TV news has been important because you get a lot of high-information people and people who are likely to turn out to vote. There’s a lot of undecided voters and persuadables,” Travis Ridout, a professor at Washington State University who also works with the Wesleyan Media Project, said.