The race for the 3rd Congressional District Democratic nomination just got more interesting – Carolyn Long, constitutional law and politics professor at Washington State University Vancouver, filed Federal Election Commission paperwork on Nov. 13 stating her intention to run for Jaime Herrera Beutler’s seat in 2018. Three other Democrat candidates have declared their intention to run for the seat.
Peter Harrison: Harrison is a computer scientist, and small business owner who formerly worked for Microsoft and holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry. He was previously a delegate for Bernie Sanders and a supporter of local candidates. He also ran against Eric Labrant for a seat on the port commission in 2015. When asked why college students should vote for him, his response was that “I graduated from WSUV in 2011. I saw what the difference in tuitions are from my first degree in 2008 to my second degree in chemistry in 2011. If you took the inflation rate in 1981 from when I got my first new car to what a semester at WSUV costs now, it’s an insane amount more.” He has focused his campaign primarily on building the website infrastructure to make his statements accessible, using Search Engine Optimization and Twitter to promote his stance.
David McDevitt: McDevitt is a veteran who “hold[s] both an MBA (finance and management) and JD (law degree), as well as a license to practice law,” from JFK University. He previously held various roles at telecommunications companies in California, and moved to Clark County in 2011. He campaigned for the same position in 2016, but lost in the primary to the incumbent and former Washington House Majority Speaker, Jim Moeller. McDevitt has “been campaigning full time for the last 2 1/2 years without compensation,” and said that he has contributed over $300,000 of his own money to his campaign.
When asked why college students should vote for him, his response was “my business, finance, legal background and education contributed to building of skills that are appropriate to the role of a representative. My life history and volunteer efforts gave me the backbone to fight against the morally monstrous efforts taking place in Congress today.”
Dorothy Gasque: Gasque is a former combat veteran and mother who has focused much of the last year on campaigning. Getting her start in politics as a Bernie Sanders supporter, she has gained a substantial volunteer base through the progressive wing of the local Democratic party. Her campaign manager, Mandalynn Harbert, is a 29-year-old woman who also gained political footing through Bernie Sanders. Both Gasque and Harbert are part of the self-described ‘Goldfinch Movement’, a Political Action Committee focused on extending Bernie Sanders’ ideals. Gasque has centered much of her campaign on Sanders, though she balked when asked, as she is part of a slate of House candidates across the country titled “Brand New Congress” that was formed by former Sanders Campaign staffers.
When asked why college students should vote for her, her response was “I can better represent students, because I understand that students today are graduating with fewer job opportunities and massive debt. I haven’t just read about it, I am living it. After my time in the military, with a young son at home, my husband and I pursued our degrees from Portland State University graduating after the recession. Now as the mother of a junior in high school, I have a personal stake in ensuring that we tackle the issues facing college students, so that he will have an easier time than I did.”
Carolyn Long: Long is a professor in the Public Affairs department at Washington State University Vancouver and the Sam Reed Distinguished Professor in Civic Education and Public Civility. She is also the Coordinator for the Initiative for Public Deliberation, a student group that is focused on facilitating conversations and civil discourse on political issues. She received her doctorate in political science from Rutgers and her B.A. from University of Oregon. This year, she was appointed as the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the university, but according to Chancellor Mel Netzhammer, his office is “reviewing options for filling her strategic partnerships role,” since she notified him of her interest in running for office. Her campaign slogan? People over politics.
Long’s campaign manager, Tyler Davis, is a senior majoring in Public Affairs and Vice Chair of the 49th Legislative District Democrats. The treasurer for the campaign is Wyatt Arnall, who graduated from WSU Vancouver in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. While Dr. Long declined to be interviewed so as not to “[use] any WSUV resources,” as Davis said, she seems to be utilizing her 22-year tenure at Washington State University-Vancouver her to her advantage, drawing on talent from the campus for her campaign.
Editor’s Note : The VanCougar Newspaper, as a limited public forum, is not a state resource and is not a conflict of interest as designated by state law.
Dr. Long’s use of students in her campaign staff is also not in violation of any state law regarding public employment and political activities. As a memo from Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office that was sent to WSU faculty and staff in May of 2016 states, “state employees […] have the right to campaign and engage in political activities on their own time, provided they do not use state resources and make it clear they are not speaking on behalf of WSU.”
The candidates, excluding Dr. Long, seem to have identical platforms and similar backgrounds. Gasque says that her military background is what sets her apart from other candidates, yet McDevitt is also a veteran. All candidates emphasized the importance of getting money out of politics as a central issue, though McDevitt and Harrison also cited health care as a major touchstone for his campaign. McDevitt cited his “business, finance, and legal background” as reasons to vote for him, but Peter Harrison also has an extensive background in business and finance, and Dr. Long has arguably more legal experience as a law professor than as a non-practicing lawyer.
What remains a mystery is how voters connect with the candidates. Harrison said “take a look at David McDevitt or Dorothy Gasque’s website and they’re skeletal. They’ve been focused on talking to people instead of creating the infrastructure,” adding that in his opinion “they start voter outreach way too early.” He also implied that Dr. Long’s campaign is getting started far too late.
The Democratic Party
Though other candidates have been campaigning for some time and Dr. Long has just come forward, Rich Rogers, chair of the Clark County Democratic Central Committee (CCDCC), stated that “the CCDCC is pleased to see Dr. Carolyn Long enter the third congressional race. Our 3rd CD incumbent is clearly out of touch with her constituents and reality and it’s time to replace her.”
He added, “Dr. Long would be an incredible representative and someone Clark County could expect to make the best decisions to best benefit our community. We have a crowded primary and we hope the voters will make the choice and replace our current incompetent congresswoman.”
Other candidates shared their vision for the Democratic party. Peter Harrison said “there’s a lot going on with people disagreeing with how the Democrats and Republicans have been operating. On the state level, the Dem party has a platform that supports single-payer, infrastructure improvements, environmental causes like climate change and we all very much agree on those things.”
Dorothy Gasque said much of the same about the issues, but noted that she “envision[s] a party that is driven from the bottom-up and not controlled from the top-down,” and emphasized the role that money plays in politics. McDevitt stated that he “would like to see the Democratic party restore its relationships with the unions, workers, and middle-class” and again, covered many of the same issues.
None of the candidates spoke about the sexual assault allegations that came from within the Democratic party in Walla Walla earlier this year. When pressed about what the Democratic party could do regarding sexual assault, Harrison said “I don’t think that’s an issue with either party, it’s an issue with individuals who have become accustomed to not playing responsibly with others.”
When reached for comment, Pam Pieper from Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Vancouver staff did not answer any questions but did provide this statement: “It’s been my honor to fight for the people of Southwest Washington back in the U.S. Congress, and my priority has always been on protecting jobs and economic opportunity here. I want all residents – recent graduates and mid-career professionals — to be able to find good-paying jobs right here in Southwest Washington. No one will fight harder for this priority than I will.”
Beutler did not acquiesce to citizens to hold an in-person town hall during the summer recess, despite protests outside her office. Rather, she has hosted “tele-town halls” where individuals may call in to ask questions that are screened before they are forwarded to the congresswoman. It is doubtful that the congresswoman is worried about her seat, as she won the district with 61.8% of the vote in 2016.
However, Washington State holds open primaries. This means that the top two vote-getters move on to the general election, regardless of party. Peter Harrison said that “either [Carolyn Long] or I will be at the top of the list at the end of the primary,” and that he hopes it is both of them that move on, rather than Beutler.