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Gluesenkamp Perez leads Kent in initial results for Washington's 3rd Congressional District

As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Gluesenkamp Perez was ahead of Kent, with about 53% of the vote to Kent's 47%.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Voters in Southwest Washington did not know Tuesday night who will be their new representative in Congress after a November midterm election that saw two relative political newcomers battle over the seat of a toppled six-term incumbent.

As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez was ahead of Republican Joe Kent, with about 53% percent of the vote to Kent's 47%.

Gluesenkamp Perez said the Tuesday night numbers exceeded her expectations, and added in a statement that although it could take "several days" to know the ultimate outcome of the race, the initial results were highly encouraging.

“If tonight’s result stands, rest assured that I’ll stand up to both parties to bring back manufacturing and create local jobs, bring down the cost of gas and groceries and finally do something to make child care and health care affordable," she said. "I’ll defend our freedoms, including the Second Amendment and the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their doctor."

Kent's campaign denied members of the press access to their election night event, but campaign manager Ozzie Gonzalez told KGW that the campaign remains confident that they will pull ahead when all the votes are counted.

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"The spot we’re in right now, in the primary we came back from a 5 point deficit after the initial night so we don’t think these results are really reflective of what the results will be," he said. "We’ll know more Wednesday, Thursday, as they continue to process ballots.”

Kent reiterated as much in a tweet, telling his supporters to "keep your powder dry and make sure your ballot is accepted."

Tuesday night's results consisted of about 191,100 counted votes, compared to 307,226 ballots cast in the 2018 midterm election.

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a moderate Republican, was first elected in 2010 to Washington's 3rd Congressional District seat. In 2021, she was one of a handful of Republican representatives who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot — a move that got her censured by Clark County Republicans.

During the 2022 primary, the race included not only Herrera Beutler and Gluesenkamp Perez, but two more Republican candidates who ran to the incumbent's right: Joe Kent and Heidi St. John.

When the dust settled after Washington's "top-two" primary, Herrera Beutler was edged out of a general election run-off after Gluesenkamp Perez and Kent earned the most votes.

Click here to see initial results for the top races in Oregon and Southwest Washington

RELATED: Herrera Beutler's defeat rewrites the political landscape in Southwest Washington

Kent, a military veteran who served in the Green Berets, was endorsed by former President Trump and ran a campaign that embraced Trump's "America First" platform and a list of conspiracy theories: doubts about the veracity of the 2020 election results, characterization of COVID-19 vaccines as "experimental gene therapy," and a belief that January 6 was an "intelligence operation."

Clamping down on immigration and citizenship, as well as invigorating the fossil fuel industry in the U.S., were tentpole issues for Kent's campaign.

Auto shop co-owner Gluesenkamp Perez, while a vociferous advocate of abortion rights, tried to appeal to moderate voters in the district — including Republicans who previously voted for Herrera Beutler.

Gluesenkamp Perez advocated for investing in American manufacturing, expanding the nation's green products and energy sectors, and supporting policies that would fully staff law enforcement agencies.

RELATED: SW Washington congressional candidates Kent and Gluesenkamp Perez spar over vastly different visions for the future

Despite emerging into a surprisingly competitive race for a district that's been held by a Republican for more than a decade, Gluesenkamp Perez did not see the kind of support from national-level Democratic organizations that other close congressional races received. Nonetheless, data from the Federal Elections Commission indicated that she'd raised almost $3.28 million to Kent's $3.19 million by the end of October.

Kent faced national-level scrutiny from news website The Daily Beast over the perplexing details of his employer, listed on federal filings and mentioned by Kent as American Enterprise Solutions, when the publication said that there was no sign that such a company existed.

Kent's campaign responded by saying that the they'd erroneously been calling the company by this name when it had been changed, at some point, to Advanced Enterprise Solutions. They shared portions of two W-2 tax forms from 2020 and 2021 that showed the new name.

Shortly after the employment kerfuffle, Kent's campaign abruptly released the most recent three years of his tax returns, saying that Gluesenkamp Perez had refused to do the same. Her campaign released her tax returns for the same period shortly after.

RELATED: Recent Washington poll shows abortion and inflation emerge as top two issues

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