Will MAGA Republicans In Washington Be Able To Replace Jaime Herrera Beutler & Dan Newhouse?
After redistricting in Washington, Jamie Herrera Beutler may have been surprised to find her district in the southwest corner of the state slightly redder (from R+10 to R+11). It's the only Republican-held seat that the Democrats could have stolen through gerrymandering by borrowing voters from Marilyn Strickland's 10th and Derek Kilmer's 6th (each a safe D+10). The two other Republicans in the state-- Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse have supersede districts, respectively R+17 and R+25.
That's not to say that Herrera Beutler and Newhouse have safe rides back to Congress, just that there electoral trouble comes from the right, not from the left. Herrera Beutler and Newhouse, both of whom voted to impeach Trump after the attempted coup, each has 5 MAGA-Republican primary opponents. McMorris Rodgers, who is pro-insurrection, has no primary opponent.
Herrera Beutler has two Republican opponents who have raised serious money:
Jaime Herrera Beutler- $2,829,294
Joe Kent- $1,835,212 (endorsed by Trump)
Heidi St. John- $801,051
Although German-born, South Africa-raised gay Nazi billionaire Peter Thiel is primarily trying to buy himself 2 Senate seats (JD Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona), part of his deal to get Trump's endorsements was to also help challengers to Trump's enemies in the House. Thiel is helping finance Joe Kent (as well as Liz Cheney opponent Harriet Hageman) as part of that deal.
Newhouse has kept his head down and is in less trouble than Herrera Beutler. None of his opponents have galvanized the MAGA base-- or the corrupt big MAGA money-- the way Kent has in WA-03. Newhouse has raised $1,182,755 and his closest Republican opponents haven't gotten halfway there-- former NASCAR driver Jerrod Sessler ($444,024) and Loren Culp ($191,294).
Listen to Joe Kent talking about the Republicans' embrace of Naziism, trying to distance himself from Nazi Nick Fuentes by saying "We don't say those types of things out loud... I'm in politics. I'm auditioning for a very serious job so I can't be associated with folks that are messing around with that type of rhetoric... That's not the face we want to put forward from my campaign."
Now the new Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns book, This Will Not Pass, shows that Herrera Beutler and Newhouse went even further than previously known in pushing to have Trump removed. Seattle Times reporters David Gutman and Jim Brunner reported this week that "Newhouse, in a meeting of House Republicans shortly after the attack and shortly before the impeachment vote, raised the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would allow a majority of Trump’s Cabinet to vote to remove him from office. And Herrera Beutler, in the same meeting, suggested that Republican leaders in the House and Senate ask Trump to resign. Herrera Beutler would later curse out her own party’s leaders for their handling of the fallout of the impeachment vote."
Ultimately the Jan. 11 meeting of House Republicans ended without a consensus. Two days later, the House impeached Trump for a second time, with Herrera Beutler and Newhouse joining eight other Republicans and every Democrat in voting to impeach.
The Washington State Republican Party’s central committee voted 111-2 to condemn Herrera-Beutler and Newhouse for their impeachment votes.
As the Senate was considering the impeachment charges, Herrera Beutler released a written statement, describing a call between McCarthy and Trump during the attack on the Capitol.
She wrote of the call: “According to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’”
And she called on other Republicans to speak up about what they knew: “To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time.”
The impeachment vote would trigger more angst for House Republicans, with the caucus riven between the few who chose to hold Trump accountable and the far greater number who were angry about the push for accountability.
There isn't much public polling but this one from right-wing polling firm, Trafalgar, shows Herrera Beutler was ahead, grudgingly so, last summer:
It's not going the change any MAGA-minds but perhaps Republican-leaning independents and even some mainstream conservatives will be swayed by reports like the one from Kyle Cheney last night about the collusion between Trump and right wing terrorist groups during the coup attempt. Cheney reported that "Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes tried to connect with then-President Donald Trump on the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, and urge him to ask the group to forcibly oppose the ascension of Joe Biden, according to a court filing posted on Wednesday in connection with a plea deal by one of Rhodes’ allies. That evening, after Oath Keepers led by Rhodes departed Capitol grounds, Rhodes gathered members of the group at the Phoenix Hotel in Capitol Hill. There, according to the filing, Rhodes contacted 'an individual over speaker phone.' One of the other members of the group, William Todd Wilson, 'heard Rhodes repeatedly implore the individual [presumably Mark Meadows] to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power,' prosecutors say. 'This individual denied Rhodes’s request to speak directly with President Trump,' according to the filing. 'After the call ended, Rhodes stated to the group, I just want to fight.' It’s unclear whom Rhodes spoke to or whether that individual had access to Trump. The existence of the call was revealed as part of a plea deal between prosecutors and Wilson, who was in frequent contact with Rhodes in the run-up to Jan. 6 and in the ensuing weeks. Wilson on Wednesday became the third Oath Keeper to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy, the gravest charges to emerge from the Jan. 6 insurrection."