At community coffee Haugen backs off, Herrera Beutler talks county commissioner race

Shortly after Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler announced on Monday that she would host another community coffee event with constituents in Ridgefield the following morning, her challenger, Democrat Jon Haugen, fired off a feisty email to his followers.

“Jaime Herrera Beutler has refused to meet with the general public in an unrestricted open forum,” Haugen wrote in the email. “I am planning to attend. I will see if they let me in.”

Haugen did attend the event on Tuesday, and when it came time for him to ask Rep. Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, a question, he appeared indecisive as to whether he wanted an answer.

When Herrera Beutler called on Haugen, he said: “I had a couple of questions when I came today about your vote for the bridge to nowhere in Alaska a year ago in March, and the $500 billion that the Ryan budget takes out of Medicare. But, I met Gary this morning whose son is on his 11th deployment to Afghanistan, just started an 18-month tour, and I think Gary deserves a question much more than I do.”

Herrere Buetler responded: “Well, you can ask a question and I can come back.”

Haugen: “Well, go ahead Gary.”

“Well, I can come back if you want to think about it,” Herrera Beutler told Haugen, turning her focus to Gary. “Can I just say, thank you. Eleven deployments.”

The conversation never came back to Haugen. He left the event early to stand near the building’s exit and hand out his business card to people leaving the community coffee.

Later on Tuesday, Haugen sent out two tweets about the event:

“Attended J. Herrera Beutler’s (JHB) ‘Coffee’, about 35 people there. She did not explain why she will not meet with groups in the evening.”

“At JHB ‘coffee’ I met a gentleman whose has a son that has had 11 deployments to Afghanistan. JHB says we should stay. I do not agree.”

Herrerea Beutler told the crowd on Tuesday that she hosts community coffees at different times throughout the day, including evenings, and she also said it is time to bring troops in Afghanistan home.

County commissioners

One discussion participant on Tuesday asked Herrera Beutler to weigh in on the Clark County Republican Party sanctioning County Commissioner Marc Boldt for making decision with which they did not agree. Boldt was barred from making a speech at the Clark County GOP convention, and he won’t get any financial support from the party or have access to resources such as mailing lists.

The participant asked Herrera Beutler: “How do you feel about the local Republican party action recently toward a Republican who wasn’t toeing the line?”

Herrera Beutler said constituents, not political parties, should come first.

“We were elected to govern, and that doesn’t mean you agree with everybody,” she said. “I’m going to support both county commissioners who are up for election this year. Because I think that overall their goal is to govern. I’m going to catch flak for telling you that, but that’s OK.”

[AUDIO] To hear the entire 82-minute community coffee Q&A, click this link. (It’s not the best audio in the world; I just had my digital recorder set up on a table.) The Haugen exchange takes place just before the 28 minute mark and the county commissioner question is asked during minute 46.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or or or

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