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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
Baird's retirement announcement instantly put this seat up for grabs, as the district has flipped back and forth on the presidential level in recent cycles.
State Rep. Jaime Herrera (R) and former state House Majority Leader Denny Heck (D) are facing off for the district in the southwest corner of the state. The only independent polling on the race, taken in August and September, found Herrera above 50 percent.
Both national party committees see this district as winnable. In late September, the National Republican Congressional Committee went up with its first ad against Heck, slamming him for his support of health care reform.
Heck has focused on his record as a small-business man and used a "Give 'em Heck" tag line. The kicker of the NRCC ad was, of course, "Heck No."
Herrera is running as the candidate who can "change Congress" and bring back "fiscal sanity."
District Profile from Politics in America
Located in Washington's southwestern corner, the politically competitive 3rd District is home to two enclaves of liberal Democratic voters -- the state capital of Olympia and the city of Vancouver -- and to Republican communities in the suburbs and countryside. The two cities are connected by Interstate 5, west and east of which lies considerable open rural territory.
The district's population center is Clark County (Vancouver), where more than half of the 3rd's residents live. Tens of thousands of county residents cross the Columbia River each day to jobs in Oregon, many of them in Portland. Clark's population growth over the last two decades made the home construction industry a cornerstone of the local economy, but a housing market crisis put the brakes on development.
The distressed economy and high foreclosure rates in the district affected the 3rd's extensive timber industry -- the vast stretches of woodlands east in the Cascade Mountains and west in Wahkiakum and Pacific counties supply the lumber for homes and commercial construction. Fishing and oyster harvesting are prominent on Pacific County's coast.
The district's other population pocket and cultural hub is Olympia in Thurston County at the 3rd's northern tip. Olympia's workforce relies on government and service-industry jobs.
Timber, computer hardware, manufacturing
Vancouver, 161,791; Olympia (pt.), 38,907
Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980, killing 57 people and destroying enough timber for 300,000 two-bedroom homes.
|2010||general||Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)||152,799||53%|
|Denny Heck (D)||135,654||47%|
|2008||general||Brian Baird (D)||216,701||64%|
|Michael Delavar (R)||121,828||36%|
|2006||general||Brian Baird (D)||147,065||63.1%|
|Michael Messmore (R)||85,915||36.9%|
|2004||general||Brian Baird (D)||193,626||61.9%|
|Thomas Crowson (R)||119,027||38.1%|
|2002||general||Brian Baird (D)||119,264||61.7%|
|Joseph Zarelli (R)||74,065||38.3%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 53%||John McCain: 45%|
|2004||John Kerry: 48%||George W. Bush: 50%|
|2000||Al Gore: 46%||George W. Bush: 48%|