Kent widens fundraising gap among challengers for JHB’s Congressional seat

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The latest Federal Elections Commission filings are in, and Congressional candidate Joe Kent broke $1 million raised in his bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 2022 election.

The third-quarter filings, covering July through September 2021, were released Oct. 15. Though Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, maintains the lead in total campaign fundraising, Kent continued to ramp up receipts for the third quarter in a row, with more than $452,000 raised from July through September.

The third-quarter FEC filing puts Kent’s campaign at about $1.09 million raised in total, with about $837,000 cash on hand. The total puts Kent, a Republican challenger for Herrera Beutler’s seat, even more firmly in second place money-wise, though his campaign still trails the incumbent who has about $1.73 million raised in total as of the latest filing.

Herrera Beutler’s campaign raised close to $524,000 from July through September, and had about $1.38 million on hand as of the latest filing. The third quarter money raised was more than the $463,000 raised from April through June, though the amount was below the roughly $745,000 her campaign raised in the first quarterly report of the election cycle.

Though Herrera Beutler still led in fundraising, Byron Sanford, Kent’s campaign manager, pointed to Kent’s reliance on individual campaign contributions compared to political action committees. According to FEC data, Herrera Beutler’s campaign has raised about $492,000 through political committees through the cycle, including about $160,000 in the third quarter. Kent’s campaign has only raised $19,000 through political committees.

“The America Last incumbent relies on political action committees to keep her campaign afloat, whereas the Kent campaign has the backing of small donors and an army of volunteers,” Sanford wrote.

While Kent’s campaign ramps up with fundraising, one of Herrera Beutler’s other challengers from her own party didn’t go as far as she did in past filing periods. Heidi St. John’s campaign brought in about $55,000 from July through September, down from about $149,000 in the second quarter and roughly $131,000 in the first.

St. John’s campaign has raised about $335,000 in total, with about $213,000 cash on hand as of the latest FEC filings.

Outside of fundraising, Kent managed to pick up prominent endorsements as he campaigned  from July through September, getting the backing of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Washington gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp and former president Donald Trump.

Though Kent managed high-profile backing including from the former president, St. John has continued her attempt to unseat Herrera Beutler, getting endorsements of her own in September. Those endorsements included retired Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin and the Family Policy Institute of Washington Action.

Both Kent and St. John are seeking to unseat Herrera Beutler after the incumbent voted for Trump’s impeachment following the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6. A third Republican challenger who announced candidacy following the impeachment, Wadi Yakhour, announced the end of his campaign during the third quarter.

Yakhour raised $718 in the third quarter, and raised a total of about $37,000 throughout his campaign.

Even with the challenges from her own party, Herrera Beutler’s campaign is undeterred heading into the coming months of the race.

“Honestly, when she maintains her focus on doing her job — passing legislation that helps grow jobs and paychecks, saving our salmon runs, and preserving individual liberties — the campaign side has always taken care of itself,” Parker Truax, Herrera Beutler’s campaign manager, wrote in an email. “She handily leads all challengers and is well-positioned to win re-election.”

For this cycle, Herrera Beutler’s campaign exceeded the roughly $1.13 million it raised through the first three quarters of the 2020 election cycle. That year, Herrera Beutler’s main challenger was a Democrat, Carolyn Long, who sought a second chance to unseat the now six-term incumbent. Long has not filed for the 2022 contest, and only two Democratic candidates for the seat have raised any funds this cycle.

Of the Democrats, Brent Hennrich raised the most, both this past quarter and in total. Hennrich raised about $13,000 from July through September, putting his total funds raised at about $25,000, with about $4,500 cash on hand.

Fellow Democrat Lucy Lauser raised $185 in the third quarter filing period, putting her total at about $500 with $111 on hand.

Three of nine candidates filed with the FEC have yet to raise any reported funds. Neither Republicans Matthew Overton nor Leslie French, or Democrat Davy Ray, have reported any fundraising as of the third quarter filing.

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