At what may be considered the halfway point of her 2022 re-election campaign, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler continues to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars and a hold a sizeable lead over her challengers in fundraising, according to campaign finance figures released Friday.
Yet Joe Kent, an Army Special Forces veteran and Trump-endorsed challenger who is trying to unseat Herrera Beutler as Southwest Washington’s congressional representative, is continuing to see his donations swell.
Among challengers, Kent outpaced Heidi St. John, a Christian author and speaker, and Brent Hennrich, the only Democrat who has raised more than $1,000. Kent said the filings show the field narrowing.
“It’s a two-person race,” Kent said Friday. “It’s me against Jaime Herrera Beutler.”
Herrera Beutler brought in $523,591 between July and September, according to the quarterly finance reports that candidates for national office file with the Federal Elections Commission. It’s the most she’s raised at this stage of the cycle, and 13% more than she raised last quarter.
The haul gives her campaign $1.4 million cash-on-hand to spend in pursuit of her seventh term.
The largest donation on Herrera Beutler’s books: a $20,137 contribution on Sept. 27 from Take Back The House 2022. That’s a political action committee closely aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, according to CNN.
Other PACs chipped in as well, including a combined $10,000 from Eye of the Tiger Political Action Committee, a group associated with Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, of Louisiana.
“We’re grateful for the overwhelming support Jaime has received from people throughout Southwest Washington who recognize her service to the region and her relentless focus on delivering results for the people she represents,” said Parker Truax, a campaign spokesperson, in an email. “She handily leads all challengers and is well-positioned to win re-election.”
Kent’s campaign, meanwhile, brought in $452,131, a 23% jump from the prior quarter. That increase could be fueled by Trump’s endorsement at the beginning of September. Kent now has $836,818 cash on hand.
Kent, a Yacolt resident who ardently describes himself as an “America First” candidate and who recently headlined a Washington D.C. rally defending people charged and jailed for their roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, said Trump’s endorsement likely fueled more donations.
“I think that’s maybe the difference between third and fourth quarter,” Kent said. “It’s obviously a national race just because of the whole impeachment vote and the way the president has weighed in on the race.”
Kent’s campaign contributions drew more from individual donations, the filings show. Last quarter, Kent said, the average donation rang up $53. And many donations, he noted, are coming from outside the district.
“Appearing on (former Trump advisor Steve) Bannon’s War Room, appearing on Tucker Carlson, that’s a more activist audience that wants to take action regardless of where they’re from, and they realize that if we’re going to take the country back we have to take the House and the Senate,” Kent said.
Among his contributors: Stephen Wynn, a billionaire casino mogul who had a brief stint as finance chair of the Republican National Committee. Wynn resigned from that post in 2018 amid sexual misconduct allegations. Wynn’s wife, Andrea, donated to Kent as well.
J.Z. Knight, a Yelm, Washington, mystic gave to the Kent campaign. According to the Seattle Times, Knight runs the for-profit Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment and was once a frequent Democratic donor until recently.
Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer donated $500. Songer, a Constitutional sheriff, has made headlines this year for fighting pandemic restrictions.
Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder and wealthy Silicon Valley investor, also contributed to Kent’s campaign earlier in the cycle. Thiel gave a maximum $5,800 individual contribution, Kent said.
Kent, who has stumped against wealthy and powerful elites, welcomed Thiel’s support. He said they align on similar “America First” policies.
“I talk about going after big businesses and the permanent ruling class. I do think there are patriots in those communities (whom) hopefully Thiel is inspiring to come over to our side and have a more nationalistic approach to the economic issues,” Kent said.
The campaign for St. John, the Christian author, raised $54,935 in the quarter. The campaign previously raised $130,000 and nearly $150,000 in prior quarters.
Campaign spokesperson Lisa D’Andrea said the campaign is undaunted by the widening fundraising gap.
“Money is no substitute for local support. No doubt that the other candidates wish they had the kind of support Heidi St. John’s campaign has on the ground,” D’Andrea said in a text message. “Our race is just getting started.”
Neither was Hennrich, the Democrat, worried. Hennrich raised $13,449, but noted his contributions are rising over prior quarters.
“I’m in no way dissuaded,” Hennrich said. “We’re building a bit of a coalition around myself in all parts of the district.”