Mr. “Very Fine”( NOT) WA State GOPer Joe Kent – He Is Challenging Marie Gluesenkamp Perez for a Congressional Seat October 9, 2022
Demagogue Donald’s poisonous legacy continues. He was, of course, the one who proudly called neo-Nazis, KKKers, and white supremacist rioters in 2017 Charlottesville, “very fine people.” The “Napoleon of Mar-a-Lago” still has many disciples running in the 2022 midterms. One of Trump’s most fervent fans, who received Donald’s proud endorsement is GOP congressional candidate Joe Kent. He will be facing Democratic Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in 11/2022 to represent Washington State’s 3rd Congressional District (CD). This contest will be crucial to determining which party controls Congress and whether Trumpism still grips many congressional districts. Let’s focus on this battle.
The current WA 3rd is located in the Evergreen State’s southwest between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascades. Initially, the WA 3rd was a lumber-mill and fishing area. From the 1930’s New Deal era, it was Democratic blue-collar country. However, after a 1990’s court decision shut down logging in old-growth forests to save the spotted owl habitat, GOP voter registration increased. Clark County, in the southern part of the 3rd, contains the city of Vancouver, one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. Vancouver is filled with new residents who are eager to avoid Oregon’s high-income tax but who want to make purchases in OR free of its sales tax. From 2000-2017, Clark County, across the river from Portland, OR, grew by 38%. Vancouver’s port employs about 4,000 workers .Ten percent of Clark County is Hispanic, while 5% percent is Asian. Many newcomers to the WA 3rd have no roots in this area and have made this region politically marginal. Two-thirds of the 3rd’s residents live in Clark County which has aided the GOP. The 3rd CD contains a small slice of WA’s Thurston County, but not Olympia, the state’s capital. In 2020, Donald won the WA 3rd by three points, 50%-47% (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac). The most recent Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the Evergreen 3rd an R+5 score.
Joe Kent, unlike many crude- acting and inexperienced MAGA candidates, is considered a “rising star” of that group and a rather polished fellow. He has been called “movie-star-handsome,” and has a strong military resume and sympathetic personal story. He served 11 tours, mostly in Iraq. His wife, a Navy cryptologist technician, Shannon, was killed by an ISIS suicide bomber in Syria that left Kent the single father of two young children (nytimes.com, M. Goldberg, 9/24/22). Kent stated he went into politics because he blamed the “administrative state” for his wife’s death. He claims these “unelected bureaucrats” kept Trump from pulling troops out of Syria (nytimes.com, 9/24/22).
And besides his tin-foil hat beliefs, Kent is one big white-supremacist. He counts this group of wackos among his closest allies. In 3/2022, five months before he won the GOP nomination for the WA 3rd CD race, Kent appeared on a webcast hosted by a Gen-Z white nationalist group called the American Populist Union, now the American Virtue group. Kent spoke to David Carlson that group’s chief content officer in a 45-minute conversation. He was trying to tell white supremacist Carlson that he didn’t want Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’ endorsement anymore. When Fuentes attacked Kent for his “betrayal,” Kent tried to “explain” himself to Carlson. Kent went on to say that white people are “discriminated against in America.” Kent called for an immigration moratorium, and said that in the U.S., “our rights come from God, not from government.” When supremacist Carlson stated that since Kent shares Fuentes’ own religious and nationalist convictions, why did he consider Fuentes “divisive?” Kent replied, “It’s more of a tactics thing, and that he (Kent) really differs with Fuentes on strategy. Running out there and saying, ‘This movement is for white people and Christians only, is not how you win elections at all (nytimes.com, Goldberg, 9/24/22).’” Translation: Kent wholeheartedly believes in white supremacy and anti-Semitism but in post-Holocaust America and post-the 1960’s Civil Rights era, saying all this publicly is an election “deal killer.” Basically, Kent never denied his white-supremacist/ant-Semitic beliefs.
And we, therefore, should not be at all surprised that Kent is still palling around with white nationalists and neo-Nazis. It has been discovered, after he won his August, 2022 primary, that in 6/2022, Kent gave a previously unreported interview to another “very fine” person (NOT)-- virulent Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist Greyson Arnold. Arnold has a well-documented history of making racist and anti-Semitic statements. He called Hitler a “complicated historical figure which many people misunderstand (cnn.com, Kaczynski & Steck, 9/30/22).” Neo-Nazi Arnold has been pictured in multiple photographs with candidate Kent at an April, 2022 fundraiser where the two of them were canvassing for GOP candidates with WA State Young Republicans. In fact, one recent photo on Instagram showed Arnold in a Joe Kent shirt (cnn.com, 9/30/22). Neo-Nazi Arnold was at the 1/06/21 D.C. riot where he posted a video of himself at the Capitol’s steps. Kent has strongly supported far-right zanies like Marjorie “Jewish space lasers” Taylor Green (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), both big MAGA fanatics (cnn.com, 9/30/22). Kent praised Gosar for his hard-line anti-immigration stance and even toured the U.S.-Mexico border with him. Kent’s top campaign consultant set up a booth at Holocaust denier Fuentes’ America First PAC conference, where Gosar spoke (thebulwark.com, Miller, 3/10/22). Kent believes that “Chinese anchor baby citizens” should not have the same status as whites who claim they had relatives on the “Mayflower” with the Pilgrims (thebulwark.com, Miller, 3/10/22). He even wants all immigration, including legal immigration stopped (seattletimes.com, Gutman, 9/28/22). Kent is a regular on GOP propaganda channel Fox News and on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast (seattletimes.com, Gutman, 9/29/22).
Kent has called the people arrested for the 1/06/21 deadly Trump-incited Capitol attempted coup “political prisoners.” He has stated he wants to “defund the FBI (seattletimes.com, Gutman, 9/29/22).” He attended a “Justice for J6 “ rally in D.C. to support the rioters (politico.com, 8/22).Kent has called COVID a “scam” and has opposed vaccines. He recently stated that Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief and well-respected medical adviser, should be “charged with murder.” Kent wants Fauci to be “held accountable” for funding “the people who cooked up COVID.” Kent called the very effective COVID virus “not a vaccine,” but “an experimental gene therapy (seattletimes.com, 9/29/22).” Before getting Donald’s endorsement, Kent wined and dined with him at Mar-a-Lago. Kent tweeted that Ukraine should surrender to Russia. Kent called Putin “reasonable” and courageous Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, now pushing back the Russian invaders a ”thug ( Seeseattletimes.com, 9/29/22, thebulwark.com, Miller, 3/10/22).” Like similar white supremacist PA gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, Kent has signed up for Gab, a social media cesspool of bigotry and anti-Semitism, that even most GOPers have condemned. In 12/2021, months after Kent announced his candidacy, his Gab account saw a spike of 7,000 new followers, and 20% of all new Gab accounts created during this period followed Kent’s campaign. Analysts suggest that the Gab platform was intentionally forcing new users to follow Kent’s account. Mastriano saw a similar spike in followers when he used Gab (See rollingstone.com). “Bigots of a feather flock together.”
The WA 3rd CD has been represented since 2011 by 6th term GOP Congressmember Jaime Herrera Beutler. A moderate conservative, Herrera Beutler was a well-respected member of the House GOP Conference (politico.com). She spent over $1.7 million in ads and had additional financial help from a GOP women’s group. Trump-endorsed Kent spent just $620,000 in the 2022 primary race. However, Herrera Beutler committed one unspeakable “crime” in MAGA circles. She voted to impeach Demagogue Donald for inciting the 1/06 riot. And just like other pro-impeachment GOPers including Liz Cheney (R-WY), Herrera Beutler went down to defeat in her primary. She finished third. Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez took first place with 31% of the vote, and Joe Kent came in second with 22.8% of the vote to Herrera Buetler’s 22.3%. A loss is a loss, no matter how close. Under WA State election law, everyone appears on the primary ballot together, Democrats, GOPers, and all other party nominees. The top two primary vote getters advance to the general election (cnn.com, Kaczynski & Steck, 9/30/22). MAGA GOPer Kent will now be facing Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in 11/2022.
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez prides herself as not being “your typical Democrat.” She is not what GOPers call a “coastal elitist.” She and her husband own an auto shop and live in the 3rd CD’s rural Skamania County. She calls herself a moderate and is most concerned with bringing funding to the heavily rural 3rd and not interested in “grandstanding” or starting “flame wars” like GOPer Kent (seattletimes.com, Gutman, 9/28/22). She is a fifth-generation Washington Stater. Gluessenkamp Perez’s great grandfather Bert Gilmore was the quarry foreman who helped build the WA State Capitol building. Her grandmother Carol Gilmore was born in a logging camp in Sappho, WA. Her own parents met at Western Washington University after her father immigrated from Mexico. Her father was an evangelical preacher in Texas (marieforcongress.com, ytimes.com, Goldberg, M., 9/24/22). Gluesenkamp Perez and her husband’s auto repair shop has grown to 6-bays wide. They were able to purchase their building with support of an SBA (Small Business Association) loan in 2018 and they provide living wages to their employees. Like many Americans, they struggle with health care costs for their family. They pay $500 a month for health insurance for their infant son, but can’t afford an additional $1,200 to cover themselves. Unable to find good quality affordable child care, their son goes to the auto shop with them every day (marieforcongress.com). Gluesenkamp Perez is running for Congress to help those like herself and many others left behind by the political extremes in D.C. (marieforcongress.com). She stands for supporting small businesses and worker’s rights. She is a pro-choice mother and wants to protect women’s access to health and rights, very crucial after Roe was repealed. She wants to lower health care, child care, and prescription drug costs. She wants to tackle the rising costs of fuel, gas, and housing. She is for addressing climate change by investing in clean energy. She also wants big money out of politics by overturning the terrible Supreme Ct. Citizens United decision. Her own working-class background makes her an advocate of investing and expanding apprenticeship and skills training programs (marieforcongress.com).
In a recent 90-minute debate she had with Kent, Gluesenkamp Perez repeatedly hammered his far out extremist positions as too far-right even in the GOP-leaning WA 3rd . Kent did not abandon any of his far-out positions. When Kent called for Dr. Fauci’s arrest, accused Fauci of funding people who “cooked up COVID,” and called the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine “experimental gene therapy,” Gluesenkamp hit him back perfectly. She responded, “Does anyone feel like they just spent a month on YouTube? That’s what we’re signing up with Joe (Kent). He thinks he can raise a lot of money saying stuff like this, and maybe he is, but it is doing nothing to heal our country (seattletimes.com , Gutman, 9/29/22).” Like most MAGA GOPers, all they want to do is go to D.C. to talk “alternative facts” that will resonate with the Fox News crowd and the top 1%, but do nothing whatsoever to help the left behind middle class.
In a recent NY Times article, columnist Michelle Goldberg described the Gluesenkamp Perez/Kent WA 3rd contest as “the midterm race that has it all (nytimes.com, 9/30/22).” It sure does. As Goldberg noted, this Evergreen State 3rd CD race will show whether GOPers overreached in nominating candidates who speak almost exclusively to their base or whether politicians like Kent really are the Republican Party’s future. Goldberg noted that whoever wins this race will show us “what kind of House we’re going to have in 2023, one capable of legislating, or one that makes the Tea Party look tame (nytimes.com, 9/24/22).” It will show the country whether candidates that blatantly cater to the extreme right bigoted fringe can win in a GOP-leaning district. The Times article stated that before the Supreme Ct. “Dobbs” 2022 decision that overturned Roe, Kent, despite his extremist record, would probably have been a shoo-in in the WA 3rd CD (Goldberg, 9/24/22). Remember, in the 2012 GOP caucus, former Libertarian TX Cong. GOPer Ron Paul, KY Sen. Rand Paul’s father, finished second to Mitt Romney in the WA 3rd . This group of caucus growers were already MAGA before Demagogue Donald made MAGA “cool” to far too many people. Since the “Dobbs” opinion, Democrats and pro-choice voters have shown their power in special elections. They helped conservative KS defeat an anti-abortion amendment. In Alaska, Democrat Mary Peltola beat Sarah Palin in a special election that included that whole state. And Dem. Pat Ryan, running on a pro-choice platform, won a closely-divided district in a NY special election (nytimes.com, 9/24/22). Gleusenkamp Perez is running as a “non-elitist” Democrat, like rough-hewn Dem. Sen. candidate John Fetterman in PA. She is emphasizing her rural roots. She is still behind in fundraising to Kent and needs more financial aid to level the playing field (nytimes.com, 9/24/22). Unlike Senate races where the GOP has picked controversial and inexperienced candidates like PA’s Oz, GA’s Walker, and AZ’s Masters, GOP House candidates are not that well known and are aided by gerrymandering that favors “Team Red.” The Cook Political Report changed the WA 3rd ‘s rating form “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican” after Kent’s primary victory, but it still has it in the “Red” camp (Goldberg, nytimes.com). A recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey had Kent ahead by 3 points, 47%-44%, but Gluesenkamp’s internal polling has her with a slight lead, so this race is up in the air. Like good-looking Kent, Gluesenkamp Perez has looks, ones that resemble a taller, lankier Winona Ryder, which will influence some voters (nytimes.com, 9/24/22). In order to win this race that the national media is hyping, “Team Bliue” will have to pull an “inside straight.” It will have to turn out pro-choice women “big time,” shore up its edge with Latinos, and stop hemorrhaging rural voters. National Democrats believe Gluesenkamp Perez is in a good position to do all three (Goldberg, nytimes.com 9/24/22). However, the MAGA crowd will be stirred up to vote for one of their own and misogyny and anti-Latino sentiment could hurt Gluesenkamp Perez. If Democrats want to keep and add to their small House majority in 11/2022, they have to win the WA 3rd and many similar districts by coming out in droves plus and pulling moderate voters with them. Kent still doesn’t really think he has to divorce himself from white supremacists and neo-Nazis. If he wins, other GOPers, even outside ultra-“Red” districts, will believe they can ignore moderates and pay no price for courting the extremist right (Goldberg, nytimes.com, 9/24/22). Democrats and moderates in the WA 3rd and the rest of the country must show the MAGA GOP cult that they are living in their own failed “alternative universe” by thrashing them at the ballot box. Our democracy depends upon it.