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Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump, concedes loss in primary

Republican built reputation as willing to cross party lines

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., became a target for defeat by former President Donald Trump and his supporters after she voted for impeachment in 2021.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., became a target for defeat by former President Donald Trump and his supporters after she voted for impeachment in 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump in January 2021, conceded Tuesday night that she had lost her bid for a seventh term in an all-party primary held last week. 

Republican Joe Kent, a former Green Beret who had Trump’s endorsement, pulled ahead of Herrera Beutler in the 3rd District vote tally Monday, and was leading by 928 votes when The Associated Press reported her concession around 8:35 p.m. Tuesday. The wire service had not yet officially declared Kent the winner of the second spot on the ballot in the top-two all-party primary, however.

“Ever since I was first elected to this seat I have done my very best to serve my home region and our country,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement posted on Twitter by a Seattle Times reporter. “Though my campaign came up short this time, I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together.”

Her statement also said that she was proud “that I always told the truth, stuck to my principles, and did what I knew to be best for our country.”

Trump issued a statement saying Kent “has a truly bright future.”

“Joe Kent just won an incredible race against all odds in Washington State. Importantly, he knocked out yet another impeacher, Jaime Herrera Beutler, who so stupidly played right into the hands of the Democrats,” Trump said.

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, the top vote-getter, previously had been declared the winner of one of the ballot slots. Herrera Beutler had been in second place in tallies since the polls closed Aug. 2, but her lead dwindled steadily.

A mandatory recount would occur if the margin of votes between the No. 2 and No. 3 candidates is less than half of 1 percent and closer than 2,000 votes, the AP reported.

Of the 10 GOP impeachment supporters, only Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney still has to face Republican voters, in an Aug. 16 primary. Reps. Dan Newhouse of Washington and David Valadao of California have made it onto the November ballot after running in all-party primaries where GOP opposition was splintered. Along with Herrera Beutler, Michigan GOP Rep. Peter Meijer also was defeated on Aug. 2. South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice also was beaten by a Trump-backed challenger, on June 14.

Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Fred Upton of Michigan and John Katko of New York all decided not to run again this year.

With the primary loss, the end of the 117th Congress in January will mark the end of Herrera Beutler’s career in the House, at least for now. She has built a reputation as a member willing to cross party lines, especially on health care matters.

A mom who gave to birth to all three of her children while serving in the House, Herrera Beutler is a co-founder of the Maternity Care Caucus with California Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard, and has relied on her personal health challenges to speak to maternal health care issues, her signature focus in Congress.

During her career in the House, Herrera Beutler voted with her fellow Republicans 87.7 percent of the time on votes that broke along party lines, according to CQ Vote Watch.  

During the Trump presidency, she voted 79.1 percent of the time in line with his administration’s stated position on legislation, lower than the average of 92.1 percent for House Republicans. 

But it was her vote to impeach Trump put her reelection effort in peril in the solid GOP district.

Outside groups poured millions into Herrera Beutler’s race with her leading supporter, the Winning for Women Action Fund, disclosing more than $1.7 million in attack ads against Kent and an additional $300,000 spent in support of Herrera Beutler. Outside groups had disclosed spending more than $3.8 million on the race as of July 29. 

Herrera Beutler had the most in her campaign account, holding $1 million as of July 13 out of $3.5 million in total receipts, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Kent, an Army veteran, had $350,000 as of that date after hauling in a total of $2.3 million, including $200,000 in candidate loans. 

Legacy on the Hill

Herrera Beutler received national attention after the birth of her firstborn daughter, Abigail Rose Beutler, considered to be the first baby to survive after being diagnosed with Potter’s sequence. The congresswoman said she had been advised that most parents would choose to have an abortion after the diagnosis, but she and her husband sought out options for medical treatment. Though she is staunchly anti-abortion, she said politics didn’t factor into the decision. 

“You’re not thinking, ‘What’s my political stance on this?’” Herrera Beutler told CNN a few years after her oldest’s birth.

Born weighing 2 pounds, 12 ounces, Abigail had fully developed lungs at birth following five weeks of a then-experimental serial amnioinfusion treatment where saline is injected into the womb. Three years later, Herrera Beutler’s husband, Daniel Beutler, successfully donated one of his kidneys to Abigail.

“As a young mom and a lawmaker, I often consider the intersection of public policy and family health,” she wrote in the Goldendale Sentinel, a local paper, in December 2019. “It’s this experience that has spurred me to work hard on policy focused on improving health care for mothers.”

In 2017, Herrera Beutler joined 20 of her fellow Republicans to cast a vote against the GOP’s bill to replace the 2010 health care law.

She said of that time that she’d tried without success to get GOP leaders to agree to an amendment to the bill that she said would “strengthen the Medicaid safety net” for children who depend on the federal program for their health care. “Protecting vulnerable children is a core purpose of the Medicaid program, and when the program fails to do so, it fails entirely. I could not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks,” she told CQ Roll Call.

In December 2019, she bucked her party again when she was one of two House Republicans — along with Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania — to vote in favor of the Democrats’ signature drug pricing negotiation measure. That same month, she joined a bipartisan coalition to introduce a new paid family leave program for working parents — an idea for legislation she had been discussing with other members since summer 2017.

She also signed on to an effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing for legislation to boost Medicaid coverage for children with medically complex conditions and create hospital networks in different states to help coordinate their care. The measure was signed into law in April 2019 as a part of a broader Medicaid package.

Before Congress, Herrera Beutler interned in the George W. Bush White House and worked for fellow Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She was a state lawmaker before winning her seat in 2010.

She said she did not support Trump in 2016, after a tape of him boasting of groping women was made public. 

Eleanor Van Buren contributed to this report.

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