Who Is Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler Of Washington? Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler took center stage during the impeachment trial after sharing an account of Trump siding with the Capitol mob. The Washington Republican is now bracing for the fallout.

After Speaking Out On Impeachment, Herrera Beutler Heads Toward Clash With Her Party

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/967723558/967807270" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


A congresswoman from southwest Washington State was unexpectedly at the center of the Senate impeachment trial. Friday, Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of the House Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching Donald Trump, corroborated a heated phone call between the president and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Her statement was submitted as evidence in the trial. Herrera Beutler has been a prominent voice within the GOP against the former president. Joining us now to talk about how people in Washington state's 3rd District are reacting to their congresswoman's actions is Troy Brynelson from Oregon Public Broadcasting.



GARCIA-NAVARRO: So first, tell us a little bit about Herrera Beutler. Who is she, and what was her stance on Trump before all of this?

BRYNELSON: Yeah so Jaime Herrera Beutler is a Republican from the rural community of Battle Ground, Wash. She was first elected in 2010 and has been a consistent force in this district. She regularly wins her races by double digits. But it was only recently that she ever embraced Trump. In 2016, she famously said she would write in Paul Ryan, saying she couldn't vote for Trump in good conscience. In 2020, however, she was more vocal about voting for Trump. Even after the January 6 insurrection, she was referring to Trump as her guy. But then it came time to vote for impeachment.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. And she became one of 10 Republican House members who voted for impeachment. And I'm wondering, were there any ramifications locally for that?

BRYNELSON: Yes, she faced some pretty swift rebuke here from the more conservative corners of the district. Here, Trump won six counties last fall, but those are largely rural, less populated counties. And he did very well there. But its most populous county, Clark County, is far more purple. It's the population center of the district. And Republican organizations here weren't pulling punches. The Clark County Republican women said they'd never vote for Herrera Beutler again. The head of the Clark County GOP said his phone was ringing nonstop with people feeling betrayed. If you talk to these groups, they say Trump continues to enjoy a ton of support here, and his supporters aren't going to forget.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I guess, you know, that brings us to right now because she, again, pit herself against her district's Trump supporters by tweeting a statement with details about Trump's behavior during the Capitol riot. She did this Friday night after both sides in the impeachment trials ended their presentations. I mean, how are her constituents responding to that?

BRYNELSON: Yeah, it's true that Trump supporters here are reacting quickly, but remember this is a swing district. In the months since, we've been hearing from more moderate Republicans who are coming to her defense. I talked with a prolific Republican donor here who regularly communicates with Herrera Beutler, and he said he's hearing from other donors across the country who want to make sure they contribute to her next campaign. The donor said that if Herrera Beutler's actions have so angered the base, they'll make sure she has a war chest.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, it's an interesting point, right? The division between the donor class and the base. But does that mean that she'll likely face a Republican in her primary? I mean, there are forces that might want that.

BRYNELSON: Yeah, it's possible. What's interesting here is in Washington state's primary system, it advances the top two candidates regardless of party. So it's possible two Republicans make it to the general election. Herrera Beutler could really be facing challenges from all sides, your usual Democrats and the Trump supporters who want to see her out of office. I talked with political science professor Mark Stephan here in Vancouver, Wash. And he thinks it's more likely Herrera Beutler picks up more Democrats and centrists than the Trump supporters she loses.

MARK STEPHAN: I expect there'll be at least one or two candidates who are very, very much supporters of kind of the Trump line of thought and really are fighting to get her just pushed out of office. But she'll get support from places that we wouldn't have expected of otherwise.

BRYNELSON: Still, Herrera Beutler doesn't face reelection until 2022. So it's going to be interesting to see if the Republican Party's relationship with Trump changes and how that might affect her.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Fascinating, indeed, to look at that one small corner of the country and the Republican Party. That's Oregon Public Broadcasting's Southwest Washington reporter, Troy Brynelson. Thank you so much.

BRYNELSON: Thanks for having me.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.