Voters in southwest Washington are sending U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler back to Washington, D.C.
The Republican from Battle Ground will serve her fifth term in Congress, after defeating Democratic challenger Carolyn Long.
With more than 250,000 votes counted, returns Wednesday showed Herrera Beutler leading with 52 percent of the vote, compared to 47 percent for Long.
“I’m so honored to have once again earned the trust of Southwest Washington residents who have selected me to serve them in Congress for another term,” Herrera Beutler said in a statement after winning the race.
Long conceded the race shortly after updated results were released Wednesday for Clark County, the district’s most populous area.
“We ran a civil campaign that I can look back on with pride knowing that we stayed focused on the issues that matter to people in my district,” Long said in a statement.
Herrera Beutler held the advantage in more rural counties — Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, Wahkiakum and part of Thurston County — while Long took Clark County, where two-thirds of the district’s registered voters live.
Herrera Beutler said she plans to focus on the needs of her district during the next Congress.
“Our campaign was successful because voters know of my work to bring about record-low unemployment and the wage growth our workers deserve, prevent unfair tolling, fight for bipartisan solutions to improve health care, and protect fishing for generations to come,” she said.
This year’s race was one of the most competitive Herrera Beutler has faced since she was first elected in 2010. Washington’s 3rd Congressional District was redrawn in 2012, cutting out progressive Olympia and stretching east along the Columbia River. The large southwest Washington district includes more of urban Vancouver and Clark County and spans west from the Pacific Coast out east to rural ranchland around Goldendale. The conservative-leaning district went for Trump in 2016 by almost 8 points and has been seen as relatively safe for Republicans, with Herrera Beutler handily winning re-election by double digits.
But after a strong August primary showing from Long, the race began to garner national attention and was eyed as one of three U.S. House districts in Washington that could flip for the Democrats.
At Long’s election night party in Vancouver, several hundred Democrats and supporters packed the Luepke Center and anxiously awaited the first round of results.
“She’s really energized voters out here,” said 24-year old Zach Johnson, who first met Long when she was his professor at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus. “She’s really kept it close all the way through.”
Long said she was proud of her campaign, regardless of the outcome.
“We’ve built not just a campaign but a foundation for rebuilding a stronger Democratic party in Southwest Washington,” she said. “We’ve shown thousands of people in Southwest Washington that we’re willing to stand up and fight for your rights, your values and our shared future.”
Long outraised Herrera Beutler by about $1 million this election, bringing in more than $3 million. Both campaigns saw an unprecedented amount of money flow into the race. It attracted more than $3 million from outside groups, including more than $1.5 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC supporting Long, and nearly $1 million from the National Republican Congressional Committee in television advertising buys for Herrera Beutler.
Herrera Beutler said she thought the race was close because of “newer folks to the region who’ve moved in who are still getting to know me.”
She went on to say that national politics played a role in the tight race, and said she was “honored by these results.”
Final totals in the race won’t be known immediately. Ballots will continue to arrive in the coming days, with election officials updating the results of close races daily.