Organizers are gearing up for a standing-room-only crowd at a debate in Woodland Tuesday between Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) and Democratic challenger Carolyn Long.
The Woodland Chamber of Commerce is hosting the debate starting at noon at the Oak Tree Restaurant, 1020 Atlantic Ave.
The Chamber frequently hosts candidate debates and forums, but this event has garnered much more attention, Darlene Johnson, treasurer and chairwoman of the Legislative Committee, told The Daily News Friday. She has received “way more” calls regarding the debate than past events, including some from people in Seattle and others who are with anti-nuclear groups.
“This one seems like it’s taking on a life of its own,” she said. “It’s kinda scary to have that many people maybe coming. We always like a lot, but there’s a limit to what you can have.”
The room seats 120 people and then there is standing room. Johnson said she hoped she could broadcast the debate into the attached bar and casino, but there isn’t a way to connect the sound system. Instead, overflow crowds can stand in the hallway and listen through an open door, she said.
The race is attracting national attention as Democratic groups target Herrera Beutler, who is seeing her fifth two-year term. The 3rd District historically was blue but has become more of a swing district in recent years after liberal-leaning Thurston County was lopped off after the 2010 census.
Herrera Beutler captured 42 percent of the vote in the August primary but Long trailed by only about 7 percentage points, and the Democratic and Republican vote total among all candidates were essentially equal.
On Tuesday, the candidates will come face-to-face and field questions from the audience, Johnson said.
“Normally it’s a very exciting and fun event. This one might be even more exciting.”