The “blue wave” looks a lot more impressive a week after the midterm elections. Democrats have gained 33 seats in the House and could pick up another six when all votes have been counted. According to NPR, despite the fact that House districts are now “far more gerrymandered to favor Republicans” the midterm election produced “the most House seats gained by Democrats since the wave elections following Watergate.”
The “blue wave” swept across the country, but missed Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler won her fifth term, beating Democratic challenger Carolyn Long 53 percent to 47 percent.
If the 3rd District hadn’t been redrawn in 2010, making it far more likely to swing toward Republican candidates, would this area have been part of the national “blue wave”?
It’s definitely possible. The votes in Clark County, as well as in the Camas-Washougal area, favored Long, a longtime Washington State University, Vancouver political science professor who spent more than a year traveling throughout the district to meet with residents at town halls, fundraisers, parades, schools and community events.
Long seemed to be operating in stark contrast to her opponent, whose reluctance to host in-person town halls has become legendary. In October, Washington state Democrats launched the site WhereIsJaime.com, which notes the last time the Republican congresswoman had an in-person town hall, Obama was president.
Indeed, Herrera Beutler hasn’t made an appearance in the Camas-Washougal area for more than a year. She was the only candidate not present at the 16th annual Camas High youth-led candidate forum on Oct. 22 — something student organizers didn’t realize until just a couple weeks before the event — and never even informed the League of Women Voters she wasn’t going to attend the League’s Vancouver-based candidate debate.
The “blue wave” may have missed Southwest Washington, but maybe its effects will prompt Herrera Beutler to reach across the aisle more often and try to understand her “blue” constituents, who made up the majority of voters in Camas-Washougal during the 2018 midterm election.
In Clark County, Long won the vote by 2 percentage points, garnering nearly 4,000 more votes than Herrera Beutler. In Camas-Washougal, the Democratic candidate won 51 percent of the votes. In Camas, the difference was even more stark, with Long snagging about 700 more votes and winning the city’s vote 53 to 47 percent.
We can only hope the Congresswoman will note these losses in the more urban parts of her district, and begin to meet with constituents in these areas to better understand their concerns about health care, gun control, immigration, tax reform, protections for Social Security benefits and Medicare and other issues that seem to have fueled the national “blue wave.”
For Herrera Beutler to fully represent the 3rd District, she must acknowledge the more than 47 percent of constituents who voted for her opponent, as well as the thousands of constituents pleading with her for two years to come sit with them, look them in the eye and answer their questions.
If you wish to see Rep. Herrera Beutler hold more in-person town halls over the next two years, we urge you to reach out to her on Twitter at @HerreraBeutler, write to her at her Washington D.C. or Vancouver offices: 1107 Longworth HOB, Washington, D.C. 20515, or O.O. Howard House (Officers’ Row), 750 Anderson St., Ste. B, Vancouver, WA 98661, or call her 360-695-6292 (Vancouver) or 202-225-3536 (Washington D.C.).