the Congressional Quarterly's latest report, released a year ago. Meanwhile,
the congressional vote trackers at GovTrack.us define her as a "centrist
Republican" who in the past two years has missed just 14 votes out of 1,161.
Herrera Beutler is quick to point out that during her first term, the National Journal ranked her the 222nd most conservative out of the 435 lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives. Only 17 other Republicans out of the 242 in the House were ranked more liberal than Herrera Beutler, according to the National Journal's analysis.
Oregon Democrat Kurt Schrader knows what it's like to legislate from the middle. The U.S. representative lives in a true swing district -- one in which about half of voters lean right and about half lean left.
"The challenge is to represent your constituency with your principles despite the ideologues on the left or the right shooting at you," said Schrader, who's collaborated with Herrera Beutler on bills.
He first heard about her before she even took office in Congress.
The 3rd District's outgoing Democratic Congressman Brian Baird "indicated that she was potentially a pretty reasonable person to deal with," Schrader recalled. "I took note, and she won her election."
Schrader said Herrera Beutler has navigated Congress cautiously, and that's helped her succeed.
"She's a new member and trying to feel her way through," he said. "I don't think she's taking any excessive departures from what she feels works with their district, and (being) cautious is not a bad thing, as opposed to shooting from the hip."
Her party's future
The 2012 elections left many Republicans scratching their heads.
As they reflected on why Mitt Romney lost his presidential bid, or why their hopes of gaining more seats in the Senate were dashed, some conservative commentators suggested the party could become obsolete unless it figures out a way to appeal more to women, Hispanic voters and young people.
Meanwhile, Herrera Beutler, one of the youngest members of Congress and the first Hispanic Washingtonian elected to the U.S. House, celebrated her re-election to a second term.
"I think Jaime is what the Republican Party needs, and that she has a lot to offer in having someone like her communicating the values and the principles that we hold as Republicans," McMorris Rodgers, committee chairwoman of the House Republicans, said. "I think that's a definite advantage for the Republican Party."
In the current U.S. House of Representatives, Herrera Beutler is one of eight Hispanic Republicans and one of 19 Republican women in the 435-member body. She's also more than two decades younger than the average age in the House, which is 57.
Herrera Beutler was raised in a working-class home. Her great-grandparents on her father's side immigrated from Mexico, and her mother is Anglo. Herrera Beutler said she views her background as a bonus for her party.
"It helps broaden the perspective of the Republican Party," she said. "It's good to have more eyes on a problem, and from a different point of view."
Herrera Beutler said she's had discussions with members of her party about changing their harsh tone on immigration issues.
"As a Hispanic who's been elected federally, I think that we have a
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