An open letter to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

The (Vancouver) Columbian’s Stevie Mathieu blogged recently about Congresswoman Jaime Herrera  Beutler’s (WA-3) community coffee in Ridgefield last week:

One discussion participant on Tuesday asked Herrera Beutler to weigh in on the Clark County [Washington] Republican Party sanctioning County Commissioner Marc Boldt for making decision with which they did not agree. Boldt was barred from making a speech at the Clark County GOP convention, and he won’t get any financial support from the party or have access to resources such as mailing lists.

head shot, Jaime Herrera Beutler

(Photo credit: U.S. Congress)

The participant asked Herrera Beutler: ‘How do you feel about the local Republican party action recently toward a Republican who wasn’t towing [sic] the line?’

Herrera Beutler said constituents, not political parties, should come first.

‘We were elected to govern, and that doesn’t mean you agree with everybody,’ she said. ‘I’m going to support both county commissioners who are up for election this year. Because I think that overall their goal is to govern. I’m going to catch flak for telling you that, but that’s OK.’

Here is the letter I sent to Rep. Herrera Beutler this morning:

Dear Rep. Herrera Beutler:

I’m puzzled about the reasons you gave for supporting Commissioner Marc Boldt at your community coffee event in Ridgefield last week, as described by The Columbian.

According to Stevie Mathieu, you said:

1) “Constituents, not political parties, should come first.”

I agree that a candidate’s party shouldn’t come first in deciding whom to support. That reduces complex issues to the puerile simplicity of an (R) or a (D) on a yard sign.

But constituents shouldn’t come first, either. Remember the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia? Putting constituents first is nothing more than pork barrel cronyism.

Fortunately, there’s a third and better alternative–and you can find it four words into the Declaration of Independence. The old countries of Europe were built on common blood. We weren’t. We were held together instead by principles and ideas–about the nature of life, human beings and government.

A few self-evident truths should come first. That would serve both your constituents and your party better.

That brings me to your second reason for endorsing Boldt:

2) “Overall [his] goal is to govern.”

You’re right, Congresswoman: You are going to catch flak for that! Stalin’s goal was to govern. So was Genghis Khan’s. You need to dig deeper than that.

Since you don’t put political parties first, I’ll assume you’re not supporting Commissioner Boldt simply because he’s the incumbent.

Is Columbian reporter Stephanie Rice right when she suggests that you’re supporting him for old times’ sake? Because you were one of the local kids he used to hire to pick blueberries in the summer? Or because he gave you your start in politics, appointing you to fill Richard Curtis’s seat in the State House back in 2007?

I, too, go way back with Marc. I’m calling him Commissioner Boldt in this letter, just as I’m addressing you as Congresswoman, to honor the office. But he used to rototill my garden in the spring. My husband and I helped sponsor him on a trip to eastern Europe to teach modern farming techniques there. Marc is my friend—has been for years. Nothing has changed that. But (see #1 above) the citizen-rulers of a republic need to govern, not on the basis of cronyism or party affiliation, but on the basis of principle.

But maybe you’re doing that. Maybe you’re supporting him because of his positions on the issues. Here are three that really bother me:

  • Boldt supports the incredibly expensive extension of Portland light rail into Clark County–even after the Oregon Supreme Court found that the whole point of the $10 billion Columbia River Crossing project was to force Clark County to accept a light rail project it had twice resoundingly rejected by a vote of the people.

Do you support or oppose the extension of light rail into Clark County after two rejections by voters?

  • Boldt campaigned last year in support of C-Tran’s request for a tax increase (Prop. 1)–even after an independent audit indicated that C-Tran could maintain services at current levels until 2023 without a tax increase.

Did you support or oppose Prop. 1?

  • And, in 2009, Boldt voted with Commissioner Steve Stuart to raise property taxes in the county in the midst of the Great Recession.

Do you agree or disagree with that vote?

Please clarify your positions on these three issues, and your reasons for supporting Marc Boldt.

I’m posting this to my blog,, and will be glad to post your response as well.

Thank you for your time, and for your service on our behalf.

Best regards,

Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun


3 thoughts on “An open letter to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

  1. Thanks for sending/posting this letter, which eloquently expresses what many of us are thinking in regard to the issue of Marc Boldt and the recent actions of the local GOP in response to his voting record.

  2. Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun, your blog is fantastic! Excellent response to Ms. Herrera Beutler. I hope she will respond in kind. I hope she clarifies what she meant when she said she means to put people first when she “governs.” I hope she means that she takes the Washington constitution to heart where it says the whole purpose of government in this state is to protect and maintain God given individual rights:

    We, the people of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this constitution.


    SECTION 1 All political power is inherent in the people, and governments … are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

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