In speech, congressional candidate Leslie Lewallen seeks to separate herself from Republican rival


As she seeks to unseat a freshman representative in one of the most hotly contested congressional districts in the country, candidate and Camas City Councilor Leslie Lewallen told a crowd at the Mainstream Republicans of Washington June 1 that “COVID woke me up to the atrocities happening to the people, and the values, and to the country that I love.”

“COVID and those horrible liberal policies that I saw got me back off the sidelines, and that’s when I decided to run for city council,” Lewallen said, adding she knocked on 5,000 doors during her campaign. “And the No. 1 thing that people told me, as I was knocking on all of those doors in Camas, Washington, is, ‘I don’t want to see Southwest Washington become like Portland. I don’t want to see the crime. I don’t want to see the homelessness. I don’t want to see businesses fleeing, and I don’t want to see people moving out of state because this has become a wasteland.’”

Those comments, Lewallen said, inspired her to seek to represent the Third Congressional District in the nation’s capital, though she must first advance out of the top-two August primary. With the state party formally endorsing another Republican candidate, Joe Kent, for the seat, Lewallen has repeatedly sought to present herself as an alternative with a viable path to office.

“That’s the other elephant in the room — I do have a Republican opponent,” Lewallen said. “And he ran the last time. He barely defeated Jaime Herrera Beutler in the primary. He had every advantage handed to him, every advantage.”

In the speech, Lewallen noted that in the 2022 election, Kent received the endorsements of former President Donald Trump and the Washington state Republican Party and fundraised with former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy among other high-profile Republicans, and his campaign still proved unsuccessful.

“And he’s going to lose again by an even wider margin,” Lewallen said, later adding that a challenger in a state or federal election has not successfully won a rematch against the same opponent in 30 years.

As Lewallen seeks to advance in the August primary, Kent told the crowd he had “no desire to get into a back and forth with another Republican” and that the party must unify to be successful during a campaign stop in Centralia last week.

While they have not formally endorsed her campaign, Lewallen was photographed with former Speakers of the House McCarthy and Newt Gingrich at an event in late April.

“We had a safe, Republican district in the Third Congressional District, and we lost that district to a progressive Democrat from Portland who has no business being in office,” Lewallen said.

A mom of four, Lewallen said she likes to incentivize good behavior, a spirit she hopes to bring to office by encouraging immigration through legal means.

“Yes, we have a crisis at the border. We need to build a wall or electronics, whatever we need to do to make sure illegal immigrants are not crossing our Southern Border,” Lewallen said. “And we also want to simultaneously incentivize those who want to come to this beautiful country in the right way.”

When asked about strengthening parental rights in the federal government, Lewallen said she would promote school choice, saying “money should follow the backpack,” flexibility she said she wished she had during COVID-era school restrictions.

“I believe that the best government is local government,” Lewallen said. “I’m a Reagan Republican.”

While answering a question about the separations of powers between the branches of government, Lewallen said the Supreme Court “did the right thing” in voting to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that guaranteed a woman’s access to an abortion.

“I am hopeful that this new U.S. Supreme Court will do the right thing, as they did with Dobbs and other cases that they continue to do,” Lewallen said, while discussing a separate case currently before the Supreme Court.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 vote that there is no constitutional right to abortion.