Rep. Dave Reichert says Donald Trump has lost his vote.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler says she’ll vote for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as a write-in candidate for president.
And Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says she’s still planning to vote for Trump, even though she disagrees with his statements about women.
All three Republicans in Washington state’s congressional delegation have weighed in on Trump since Oct. 7, when The Washington Post released a video capturing the GOP presidential nominee boasting about kissing and groping women.
But there’s one big exception: freshman Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse, who’s keeping mum on the subject.
Some say it’s a good strategy for Newhouse, 61, who served as the state’s agriculture director under former Washington state Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire before joining Congress. He’s battling former NFL star Clint Didier, a tea party favorite, for a second term. The race is a rematch of 2014, when Newhouse narrowly defeated Didier, a farmer and former tight end who helped the Washington Redskins win two Super Bowls in the 1980s.
“He’s in a rural district, the most Republican district in the state,” said Todd Donovan, professor of political science at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. “Trump support is relatively strong there, and the tea party is alive and well. So it’s probably not going to hurt him if he stays quiet about the video.”
He’s in a rural district, the most Republican district in the state. Trump support is relatively strong there, and the tea party is alive and well. So it’s probably not going to hurt him if he stays quiet about the video. Todd Donovan, Western Washington University, on GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse
Newhouse, of Sunnyside, endorsed Trump earlier this year, calling him a better choice than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. His campaign office and congressional spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Newhouse’s silence is in stark contrast to the three other Republicans who represent the state in Congress, who wasted little time in distancing themselves from Trump, in varying degrees, following release of the 2005 video.
Trump apologized after the video went public. It showed him talking with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” in vulgar language, describing how he tried to seduce a married woman. “I did try and f--- her. She was married,” Trump says. And then he tells Bush that he likes to kiss beautiful woman, adding that as a star, “you can do anything.”
“Grab them by the p---y,” Trump was recorded saying. “You can do anything.”
Reichert, a former sheriff who lives in Auburn, Washington, called the remarks “absolutely reprehensible” and said Trump showed blatant disrespect for women.
“For 33 years in law enforcement I put my life on the line to protect women from sexual violence and abuse,” he said.
Reichert called it “a sad day in our country when voters are faced with two less than desirable candidates for president” but said: “One thing is clear: We deserve better. While I will never vote for Hillary Clinton, unfortunately with these comments Donald Trump has lost my vote.”
Herrera Beutler, of Battle Ground, Washington, said she had been waiting for months for Trump to earn her support but “that door has now slammed shut.” She said both Trump and Clinton lacked the character and temperament to be president.
“It is a sad state of affairs that these are our choices,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’ll be voting for a write-in candidate who I feel would serve this nation with honor. Paul Ryan will get my vote for president this year.”
It is a sad state of affairs that these are our choices. I’ll be voting for a write-in candidate who I feel would serve this nation with honor. Paul Ryan will get my vote for president this year. Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
McMorris Rodgers, whose district includes Spokane, criticized Trump for his remarks on the video but said she’d vote for him anyway because Clinton “lacks transparency and accountability.”
“I have said all along that I absolutely disagree with some of Donald Trump’s statements. . . . I will be voting for Mr. Trump because I believe that we must defeat Hillary Clinton, who has a record of deliberately misleading the American people,” McMorris Rodgers said.
I have said all along that I absolutely disagree with some of Donald Trump's statements. . . . I will be voting for Mr. Trump because I believe that we must defeat Hillary Clinton, who has a record of deliberately misleading the American people. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Her support for Trump has become an issue in her re-election campaign, as McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman on the House GOP leadership team, seeks a seventh term.
Joe Pakootas, her Democratic opponent, said he was “horrified and disgusted” by the video and that McMorris Rodgers should denounce Trump and withdraw her support for him.
“If she doesn’t, she is unfit to serve, on moral grounds,” Pakootas said.