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Leading candidates for Washington's 3rd District make their case to voters ahead of the Aug. 2 primary

Incumbent Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler is facing challengers from the left and right in what may be her toughest primary since first winning office in 2010.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Southwest Washington voters will decide this year whether to reelect Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler to represent the state's 3rd Congressional District or to send one of her eight challengers to Washington D.C. instead, and they'll get their first chance to weigh in on Tuesday.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 2 primary will advance to a runoff in the general election, regardless of party affiliation. That means the two names on the ballot in November could be two Republicans, two Democrats, or one of each. 

It's also possible Herrera Beutler could be edged out of the race on Tuesday if she fails to win one of the top two slots. Political observes say this year could be her toughest electoral challenge since first winning office in 2010.

Two of Herrera Beutler's leading challengers are running to her right, decrying some of her votes in Congress as insufficiently conservative. In particular, her vote to impeach President Trump following the Capitol riot on January 6th angered many conservatives, including Trump-endorsed challenger Joe Kent.

Rep. Herrera Beutler and three of her leading opponents, fellow Republicans Joe Kent and Heidi St. John and Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, were guests this week on a special one-hour edition of "Straight Talk."

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Herrera Beutler stands by her vote to impeach Trump, says "I get stuff done"

Herrera Beutler stands by her vote to impeach Trump and said she wouldn't change it, but added that she wishes she'd communicated differently with her constituents to explain her reasoning.

"I think if I understood what people didn't know and see here at the time, I would have worked more or attempted to on the communications front," she said. "I didn't understand that people hadn't seen police officers beaten with Blue Lives Matter flag poles. I didn't know people hadn't seen officers being drug into a crowd and being tased. I assumed that was being seen all over. But, I did what I thought I needed to do per my oath of office."

The six-term congresswoman insists she's accomplished a lot for her district while also standing up for her conservative values.

"I've never voted for a tax increase. I have strongly supported our Second Amendment rights. I am pro-life... I also get stuff done. I also really want to make sure my sea lion legislation gets signed into law. That my maternal mortality legislation to bring down the incidents of moms dying in America as the result of childbirth, I want to see that happen...," she said. "You can still be a conservative, you have to be willing to stand up for the truth, but you also need to want to get things done."

Watch the full interview here:

Joe Kent says Herrera Beutler’s impeachment vote prompted him to run

Kent, a former Green Beret and CIA employee, said he never thought he'd get involved in politics, but Herrera Beutler's vote to impeach former President Trump convinced him to jump into the race.

"...when she voted for the impeachment of President Trump after the riot on January 6th, I realized she was not capable of defending our district — really our nation — against the onslaught of what the radical left is doing to our country right now," he said. "I didn't see any other Republicans stepping forward to challenge her. I believe in the America First agenda and I thought if I don't do this, no one else will. That is really what got me into the fight."

Watch the full interview here:

Republican Heidi St. John: "We need a fresh voice"

Heidi St. John, an author and podcaster, describes herself as a conservative Christian. She said she's challenging Herrera Beutler because the congresswoman's votes haven't been conservative enough.

"I decided to challenge her because we need a true Republican voice in Congress, and for several years I have watched Mrs. Herrera Beutler vote against things I know the constituents of Southwest Washington want," she said. "For example, the border wall around our southern border desperately needs protection... It's time for new eyes on the situation, a fresh voice for Southwest Washington to bring real conservative values to the forefront again to represent the people here."

Watch the full interview here:

Democrat Gluesenkamp Perez calls Herrera Beutler "extremist"

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez lives in Skamania County and owns a car repair show with her husband in Portland. She said got into the race because she believes Herrera Beutler's votes have been too extreme.

"Jaime is an extremist. She urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and then she celebrated by voting against contraception... We cannot rely on her to safeguard our rights," she said. "We need representatives who do something about the economy. She has been there for 12 years and she'd like us to think that gridlock is based on someone else. But she is the one holding the bag on this."

Watch the full interview here:

Primary is Tuesday, August 2nd

The four candidates also talked about what to do about inflation which is at a 40 year high, how to keep Social Security solvent, and the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, among other topics.

The Washington primary is Tuesday, August 2nd. Ballots need to be dropped off an official drop box by 8pm on Election Day or postmarked by that day.

The special edition of "Straight Talk" airs Friday at 7pm and Saturday at 6:30pm.

Straight Talk is also available as a podcast.

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