Leslie Lewallen says abortion discussion needs more focus on compassion


Although the Washington state Republican Party has officially endorsed Joe Kent in the race for Third Congressional District, lifelong Republican Leslie Lewallen said she’s a better choice if the party wants to win.

“I’m running right now because we should never have lost the seat,” said Lewallen, 49, an attorney and Camas City Council member. “If we lose the seat again, we could lose it forever. And this seat could determine whether Republicans keep the majority in the House of Representatives.”

Kent, 43, narrowly lost in November 2022 to U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a 35-year-old Democrat. Also running in the race is Leslie French, 69, of Camas. The top two vote-getters in the August primary progress to the November ballot.

Lewallen described the freshman Democratic incumbent as a “tax-and-spend liberal.”

“She seems to go on all these victory tours about how much more money she’s spending when we have a $34 trillion debt right now,” Lewallen said. “That’s not helping the American people by spending more money. What we need is somebody that can come in and start making these cuts right away. Because I want a better America for my children and my future grandchildren. And the way that we’re spending money right now, it’s not sustainable.”

Lewallen, who said she’s been open about her occupation and financing, described herself as personally pro-life while allowing exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

“But I do think the narrative and the conversations around this subject need to change,” she said. “We need to be more compassionate.”

With her fourth child, Lewallen nearly died. The baby flatlined.

“My doctor didn’t even scrub in,” she said, emotion choking her voice as she recalled her child asking a nurse whether his mom would die. “I had less than five minutes of blood left in my body. Basically, I had a varicose vein that had ruptured on the backside of my uterus.”

She’s glad it didn’t come down to saving her life or the baby’s, but it could have.

“Given what happened to me, my heart goes out to other families who have these situations that really impact the way that they view this issue,” Lewallen said.

She also recalled struggling with infertility because of endometriosis and suffering a miscarriage during her second trimester. Her baby’s heartbeat stopped but the baby didn’t pass on its own, so she needed a D&C, or dilation and curettage surgical procedure.

“It was devastating,” she said. “Nobody prepared me for the mental anguish.”

During the 2022 campaign, when Gluesenkamp Perez said she had a miscarriage that required an abortion, Lewallen grew infuriated with her conflating a D&C with an abortion, which stops a beating heart.

“Miscarriage is vastly different than an abortion, and I found it offensive,” Lewallen said. “It was a slap in the face to a lot of women who have really struggled with a miscarriage and had to have a D&C. But she purposely said abortion, and I didn’t like that.”

Lewallen also became pregnant at 40.

“So I’ve been faced with a lot of these questions and a lot of these tough decisions that women have to face,” she said, adding that the abortion narrative offends her. “I think we really need to help women and their needs. The shame needs to be lifted from a lot of things.”

In addition to finding solutions to curb illegal immigration,  Lewallen identified other issues Congress must tackle: the homeless crisis, flooding, broadband, energy, hydroelectric power, transportation, law and order, and limited government.

In 2022, she voted for 3rd District U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the primary election, saying the 12-year incumbent  Republican congresswoman had “done a lot for this district,” although she didn’t agree with all her decisions. Then, in the general election, she said she voted for Kent as “the only Republican on the ballot.”

Was the 2020 presidential election stolen?

“No,” Lewallen said, adding that the negative election rhetoric undermined public faith in elections. While doorbelling in 2021 for Camas City Council, she said, one man told her he threw away his ballot because elections are rigged, and his vote would be stolen.

“Should we be concerned about election integrity? Absolutely!” she said. “Your vote is your voice. We should be striving to make sure that it is the best system out there. And we need to reassure individuals that it’s safe; that their vote does matter; that the election isn’t going to be stolen or rigged.”

She noted that the red Republican wave projected in 2022 didn’t materialize.

“We had a lot of weak candidates running on issues that did not matter to their actual districts,” Lewallen said. “They were the wrong candidate at the wrong time with the wrong message.”

As for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, she said, “I think it’s an unfortunate date in history. I hope we never see it again. I’m an attorney. I like law and order. We should never be encouraging that type of behavior.”

But, she added, people showed “selective outrage and hypocrisy” in the other Washington while ignoring more than 175 days of Antifa riots in Portland and Seattle in 2020.

Looking at the world stage, Lewallen said the lack of stability in Ukraine and the Middle East stems from weakness displayed by Democrat President Joe Biden and his administration.

“None of this would be happening right now if we had a strong Republican in office,” she said. “Biden is weak. I think he’s ineffectual.”

The administration botched the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and gave a green light to terrorist organizations like Hamas, she said. “I don’t like our leaders to go on an apology tour, apologizing for America and making us look weak.”

She described herself as a Reagan Republican who believes in peace through strength, but with allies.

“I believe in America first, too,” she said. “We can’t be America alone.”

Lewallen voted twice for President Donald Trump, and she’ll support the Republican ticket again.

“We’ve grown way too big,” Lewallen said. “We’re supposed to have three branches of government, not four. We have a fourth branch of government comprised of a bunch of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats making policy decisions that they have no business making.”

She wants to cut fraud, abuse, and waste in the federal government. Americans deserve better, she said. They deserve to be able to buy groceries, fill their gas tanks, send their kids to college, and see them flourish independently in life.

She doesn’t consider herself a spoiler in the congressional race.

“I’m giving people an alternative,” she said. “Like I said, Joe ran and lost in 2022. That was his best shot. He’s going to lose again, given the history. We need to pick somebody that’s a fresh new face with a proven track record of winning, that has the resume and the knowledge of the local issues that can hit the ground running and actually work to fix things. I want to go there, fix the problems, hop on a plane and get back to my family. I’m not there for performative politics.

“I would never have entered this race if I didn’t think I had a clear path for victory. And I am absolutely certain that we will win.”


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com.