OLYMPIA, Washington (AP) — The two Republican members of Congress from Washington who received interparty challenges for their vote to impeach former President Donald Trump led other Republicans in the top two in the state’s primary Wednesday.
Under Washington’s primary system, all candidates have the same vote, and the top two vote-pickers in each of Tuesday’s races advance to November’s elections, regardless of party — one system observers say it may have the GOP-based leaders in Washington aided by those targeted by Trump.
On the early return, Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse looked like they could go to the general election with a Democratic candidate in each of their races. Trump-approved candidates in both races were in third place.
Because Washington is a mail-voted state and ballots only need to be in by Election Day, it can take days for the final results to be known as ballots arrive at provincial election offices throughout the week.
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, four chose not to run for re-election. Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer was defeated in a primary Tuesday by Trump-approved John Gibbs and Rep. South Carolina’s Tom Rice lost to a Trump-approved challenger in June. Rep. California’s David Valadao — who has an open primary like Washington — survived a primary challenge. Rep. Wyoming’s Liz Cheney braces for a loss in her August 16 primary against a Trump-backed rival.
If Herrera Beutler and Newhouse eventually go to the general election like Valadao did, it will be largely due to the mechanics of the first two primary, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy in Washington state. University.
“The first two primaries are designed to favor more moderate candidates and make it more difficult for the extremes in both parties to elect moderate candidates,” he said.
The number of Republican candidates in these particular two races gave an advantage to Democrats’ chances of claiming one of the top two spots, leaving the Republican vote split, Clayton notes. Herrera Beutler faced eight opponents, half of whom were Republicans, and Newhouse faced seven, including six Republicans.
“There’s a little existing advantage among those Republicans,” Clayton said.
Herrera Beutler, who represents the 3rd congressional district in the southwestern state, had about 25% of the vote Tuesday night, and Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez got nearly 32%. Joe Kent — a former green beret backed by Trump who faced significant spending against him from another Republican who attacked him from the right — was sitting at 20%.
“Right now, I’m focused on making sure I don’t step on my skis,” Herrera Beutler, who is seeking her seventh term, said in a Zoom press conference with reporters Tuesday night. “I’m excited about the numbers, but we’re not done yet, we have more votes to count.”
Knows tweeted Wednesday that dozens of districts have not yet reported their counts and that “there is still a path”.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, the four-year-old sitting in the 4th congressional district in central Washington, had just over 27% of the vote on the early return, followed by Democrat Doug White, who had about 26%. Loren Culp, a Trump-backed former small-town police chief who lost the 2020 governor’s race to Democrat Jay Inslee, was just under 22%.
Culp noted on Facebook that the difference between first and third place is a difference of just over 4,100 votes.
“The race is exciting and more than half of the votes are still not valid!” He wrote.
Counties in both counties are expected to update their counts later on Wednesday afternoons and evenings, and most counties will post daily updates until all votes are counted.