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Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler concedes close congressional primary to challenger Joe Kent

After a week of close ballot counts in which her chances to make the November ballot grew slimmer and slimmer, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler conceded her bid for another term in Congress on Tuesday evening.

The congresswoman wrote in an prepared statement that it had been “an honor” to serve the 3rd Congressional District in Southwest Washington since she first won election in 2010. She conceded shortly after the last ballot counts in Clark County showed she would not secure the second and final spot on the November ballot. Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez secured the first-place finish in Washington’s top-two primary last week.

The Republican from Battle Ground, Washington, now joins several U.S. House Republicans whose last term came after they voted to impeach then-president Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together for the place where I was raised and still call home,” Herrera Beutler wrote in a statement. Her tenure in Washington D.C. ends Jan. 3.

The final spot in November’s general election with Perez now belongs to Joe Kent, a former Green Beret whom Trump endorsed last September and who entered the political arena only after Herrera Beutler’s impeachment vote.

Kent had not commented on Herrera Beutler’s concession by press time.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., speaks during a hearing on June 4, 2020.

Al Drago / Pool via AP

The concession, however, came after Herrera Beutler jumped to an early lead on election night. She held a nearly 5,000-vote lead then and told reporters she felt “cautiously optimistic.” Still, she made clear that the race was not over.

That lead disappeared day by day as election workers continued to comb through tens of thousands of ballots. As Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey told The Columbian newspaper, more than 60% of voters — about 90,000 in all — handed in their ballots on Election Day.

By the end of last week, Kent trailed by just 257 votes. On Monday, he took control of the second-place position. National prognosticators, such as David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report, saw votes slipping away from Herrera Beutler in recent days and declared Kent would be the eventual winner.

Kent’s victory came after a hard fought primary among Republicans. Christian podcaster Heidi St. John also ran in the race to Herrera Beutler’s right and secured around 16% of the vote in the district.

Perez, meanwhile, may be pleased with the outcome among Republicans in the 3rd District. She previously told OPB that she entered the race because she considered Kent’s views too extreme for Southwest Washington, and she has expressed confidence in her ability to defeat a candidate with less moderate appeal than Herrera Beutler.

Shortly after the congresswoman’s concession, Perez tweeted she had “beat Joe Kent in the primary and will beat him again in November.”

This story will be updated.

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