Rep. Dan Newhouse, one of the 10 Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, has advanced to the general election, surviving a challenge from a candidate backed by the former president.
Meanwhile, in the neighboring 3rd District, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) was in a tight contest with Joe Kent, a Trump-endorsed veteran who has called people arrested in the Jan. 6 investigation “political prisoners.”
Under Washington state’s nonpartisan primary system, all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, and the top two finishers advance to the general election. While somewhat unique in their format, the primaries in Washington state served as the latest test of the ability of Republicans who have opposed Trump to survive his efforts to unseat them.
Of the other GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump, four announced they would retire from Congress. Reps. Tom Rice (S.C.) and Peter Meijer (Mich.) lost their primary elections, while Rep. David G. Valadao (Calif.) survived his all-party primary.
The Aug. 16 primary elections in Wyoming will decide the political fate of the final lawmaker of the group, Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), who is vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had spent money to help the conservative challengers to both Meijer and Valadao, and is targeting both districts in November. The national party isn’t focused on Washington’s 4th Congressional District, the most reliably Republican part of the state, which Trump carried in 2020 by nearly 20 points.
In that district, Newhouse faced Trump-endorsed challenger Loren Culp.
In Herrera Beutler’s 3rd District race, the candidate who claims the second general election spot will face Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, an auto repair shop owner who the AP has projected to advance.
Newhouse and Herrera Beutler had considerably outspent their opponents, and hoped to benefit from a crowded field of pro-Trump challengers. Both lost substantial Republican support since their 2020 reelections, when they won more than 50 percent of the all-party primary vote.
Herrera Beutler also has spoken publicly about a key phone call during the Capitol attack between Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Trump had “initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol,” Herrera Beutler said that McCarthy told her.
According to Herrera Beutler, after McCarthy told Trump it was his supporters storming the Capitol, Trump responded: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Culp, a former sheriff and gubernatorial candidate who was endorsed by Trump, predicted in an interview before the election that Newhouse would struggle to unite Republican voters. The district, he said, wanted more conservative representation than Newhouse had delivered.
“Everybody that I talk to is sick and tired of him,” Culp said. “Not only did he vote to impeach President Trump and vote for the Jan. 6 commission, but he’s voted for anti-gun laws, he’s voted for big government spending.”
When it came to Herrera Beutler’s primary, national Democrats didn’t spend money, seeing a southwest Washington district that voted for Trump by a single-digit margin as a tough target in a midterm where the party is on the defensive. While Herrera Beutler regularly ran ahead of the GOP ticket, Kent said in an interview that the popularity of Trump and his agenda was underrated.
“No Republican voters are waking up in the morning and saying, ‘Gosh, what are Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham saying about the issues of the day?’ ” Kent said. “They’re looking for the ‘America First’ messaging coming from Trump, coming from Matt Gaetz, coming from Marjorie Taylor Greene,” he added, naming some far-right members of Congress who have been polarizing.
In an interview, Perez said the seat was winnable in a race against Kent, whom she called a “classic package of great hair and bad ideas.”