Elections for U.S. House are every two years but the advantages of incumbency mean real chances for change come up less often.
Once someone gets in, factors like name recognition lead to re-election time after time. In Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, this has meant an easy walk to victory for Jaime Herrera Beutler since her election to an open seat in 2011.
Herrera isn’t a bad representative. As any 3rd district congressperson must, she takes an active interest in salmon recovery and maintenance dredging for small ports. Helped by the fact that the state’s Democratic U.S. senators have parallel interests, she has been reasonably effective on those topics.
However, she is a nearly guaranteed vote for whatever the Republican leadership decides. Since Donald Trump got the White House, nonpartisan analysis finds Herrera voted in line with Trump’s position 91.3 percent of the time. This is not what one would hope of someone who has cultivated a moderate image.
More troubling, Herrera abandoned the time-honored practice of frequently holding open town hall meetings. While endorsing her in 2012, we said she was “too shielded from the public.” This has not improved. Personally answering to constituents — including any who disagree with you — is a vital part of the job.
In contrast, Democratic challenger Carolyn Long clearly enjoys personal interactions with everyone who shows up at many open public events — something like 40 times since starting her campaign, including several in Pacific County, which is a tiny part of the district.
Originally from remote coastal southwest Oregon, Long understands rural life. She has the support of former U.S. Rep. Brian Baird and holds similar positions.
It is time to shake things up. Long is the obvious best choice to represent this district in Congress.
NEXT WEEK: Some observations on county races.