tremendous opportunity to build a relationship, whether it's with Hispanics or
just immigrants in general," Herrera Beutler said, adding that those groups
should mesh well with her party. "They tend to be family-oriented,
hardworking, entrepreneurial, and they like small businesses."
Former Democratic Clark County Commissioner Betty Sue Morris said she hopes Herrera Beutler is able to use her heritage in a way that helps Congress better represent its Hispanic constituents.
If the congresswoman is able to carve out a niche as a voice for Hispanics, "that's great potential for her," Morris said. "If she's just there as a token Hispanic, everybody's going to know it, and that's not going to do anything for her."
The Republican Party also has experienced some infighting between moderate members and those who identify with libertarian or Tea Party values. That in-fighting was most recently witnessed earlier this month, when far-right members of the House tried unsuccessfully to unseat Republican John Boehner as House Speaker.
Within the past year in Clark County, a couple of moderate Republicans have either left the local party or been sanctioned by those running it. In December, leadership within the Clark County Republican Party changed when more libertarian- and Tea Party-minded Republicans took the helm.
When asked about her party's future, Herrera Beutler said, "This is a question that I wish I had an immediate answer to. I think my role is to demonstrate that one can adhere to the Constitution, have a strong faith, be a social and fiscal conservative and still represent the needs and interests of the people I serve first."
A skyrocketing career
Before the opportunity to run for Congress presented itself, Herrera Beutler said she thought she would be a grandmother before winning such a high office. Instead, she was 32.
In late 2007, Prairie High School grad landed her first lawmaking gig when she was appointed to fill the 18th Legislative District seat of Richard Curtis, who resigned amid a sex scandal. Before that, Herrera Beutler had earned a bachelor's degree in communication and political science from the University of Washington, interned for former state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, and worked for three years in Washington, D.C., as a congressional aide for McMorris Rodgers.
In 2008, Herrera Beutler, then known as Jaime Herrera, won re-election to her 18th District House post. Two years later, her focus turned to Congress; she beat out several other Republicans vying for the congressional seat left behind by Baird.
Although her Democratic rival, Denny Heck of Olympia, raised nearly $2 million to her $1.5 million in the 2010 election, Herrera Beutler emerged victorious in a district that had voted seven times in a row for Baird.
Her election two years later appeared easier. Through the redistricting process, in which voter boundaries are redrawn based on new census information, Herrera Beutler's district became more conservative. Her Democratic challenger in 2012, Jon Haugen, had trouble gaining support from his own party, and he lost the general election by 21 percentage points.
Haugen, to no avail, blasted Herrera Beutler for stopping her traditional-style town hall meetings. She replaced her town halls with
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