Will list of 3rd District candidates shrink or grow?

The race to represent Washington’s 3rd Congressional District is not lacking competitors. Nearly a dozen individuals announced their candidacy in the past year.

This roster, albeit overwhelmingly long, may change next week when the candidates must officially file to run for office and plunk down their $1,740 filing fee, which is 1 percent of a congressional representative’s annual salary.

Since announcing their bids, many candidates have sought the public eye. Others have remained silent.

Some may quietly end their campaign — or the number of challengers could multiply.

Here is who is expected to file this coming week (in alphabetical order by their last name):

Brent Hennrich, D-Vancouver

Hennrich joined candidates vying for the incumbent’s seat in February 2021, making him the longest-running Democrat in the race. Expanding health care access, addressing climate change and emphasizing the value of trade jobs is central in his campaign to “flip the third.”

Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground

After serving in Congress since 2011, the incumbent isn’t ready to retire – spurring many unsatisfied constituents to battle for her to step down, many labeling her a “Republican In Name Only.” During her tenure, Herrera Beutler created legislation prioritizing local economies through creating jobs and protecting regional forestry and fishing industries.

Joe Kent, R-Yacolt

Kent has garnered national attention since fall 2021 after being endorsed by former president Donald Trump, as well as through many appearances on far-right programs, such as Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast and Tucker Carlson’s segment on Fox News. The candidate uses his wide-reaching platform and in-person campaign events to promote American independence and disassembling “the establishment.”

Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver

Kraft, who has represented the 17th Legislative District since 2017, poses herself as the only consistently conservative candidate running for Southwest Washington’s congressional district. During her time in office, Kraft served on its Capital Budget, College and Workforce Development, and Community and Economic Development committees; she is expected to step down from the Legislature after being pulled out of her district due to updated political boundary maps.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania

As a small business owner, Perez said she understands working-class challenges spanning from overwhelming bills or inadequate political representation. She has experience in statewide and local political groups, such as the state National Democratic Committee and Skamania County Democrats, which she believes makes her the most viable Democrat running for the 3rd District.

Heidi St. John, R-Battle Ground

Conservative Christian author and podcaster St. John is adamant on reducing government involvement, especially as it relates to education. The candidate, who home-schooled her seven children, loudly contests any classroom instruction regarding gender identity/orientation and racism in America.

The Federal Election Commission and Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan site that tracks federal, state and local elections, listed a lesser-known Republican candidate, Leslie French of Camas, who may potentially file. According to French’s campaign website, he is a self-described federalist who opposes “the current political catastrophe” caused by “a coalition of foreign interests.” He has $70,380 in campaign finances, according to the FEC.

Others who previously announced their intent to run but haven’t submitted recent campaign finances to the FEC have been omitted from the list above. This includes Democrats Lucy Lauser and Davy Ray, as well as Republican Matthew Overton.

Now, Southwest Washingtonians will have to wait and see how the list changes by the filing deadline on May 20. Let’s hope it doesn’t get too crowded.

Lauren Ellenbecker

Lauren Ellenbecker

Lauren Ellenbecker is a politics reporter for The Columbian.

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