Less than 50 days before voters go to polls in the midterm elections, Marie Gluesenkamp Perez told a townhall meeting she was confident of defeating Mr Kent because the issues he focused on were of little everyday interest to most voters.
She said “non-Maga Republicans” she spoke to were interested in issues such as the cost of living, good healthcare and getting a job that paid a living wage.
“And Joe Kent is over here, spending so much time talking about how we need to arrest [Dr Anthony] Fauci for murder, and how the Chinese invented climate change, and all these ideas that are not relevant to our daily lives,” she said.
“We could spend all our time talking about why these conspiracy theories aren’t real. But in the end, they’re not going to improve our quality of life. And that’s why they’re irrelevant to most voters.”
Ms Gluesenkamp Perez, 36, owner of an auto-repair business in southwest Washington state, is going head-to-head with Mr Kent, after a hard-fought open primary that saw incumbent Republican congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler fail to make it to the general election on November.
She had first been elected to Washington’s third congressional district in 2010 and reelected five times.
But in the aftermath of the Jan 6 riots, Ms Herrera Beutler was one of ten Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Mr Trump.
Mr Trump vowed revenge and said he would back primary challengers to all of the 10 who remained in politics. Mr Kent, 42, was Mr Trump’s pick for Washington’s third congressional district.
He picked another hardline candidate, Loren Culp, to challenge Dan Newhouse, who also backed impeachment, in Washington’s fourth congressional district. But Mr Newhouse made it through this August’s primary for a showdown in November with Democrat Doug White.
Ms Gluesenkamp Perez has sought to project herself as the kind of working class American there needs to be more of on Congress. The bipartisanan Cook Political Report has changed it’s grading of the third from “solid Republican” to “leans Republicans” after Ms Herrera Buetler was defeated.
By contrast, she claims Mr Kent, who has adopted a series of hardline policies including opposition to abortion and building a border wall, has little interest in the issues of voters in the district.
Mr Kent’s website says: “I am a pro-life Christian. I will work tirelessly to protect the rights of unborn children. I will work to cut off federal funding for abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood.”
In the virtual town hall organised by the group Indivisible, which says it was “founded in response to Trump’s election”, Ms Gluesenkamp Perez said another issue that was driving out support was the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v Wade, and the creation of a two-system nation, where women in half the country will struggle to access abortion care.
“One of the really interesting things is that we’re seeing party affiliation may be less important than whether or not you’re old enough to remember what illegal abortions look like,” she said.
“People who have that lived experience of what it looks like, do not want to go back. What transcends partisanship is belief in a woman’s right to determine what the best path for her is.”
“It’s a slap in the face to have anyone say that the government is the one that ought to be making that decision for you. I can’t think of anything more offensive than that level of government intrusion,” she added.
Neither Mr Kent or his spokesperson immediately responded to a question from The Independent about Ms Gluesenkamp Perez’s comments.
Ms Gluesenkamp Perez was asked how she decided to run for office. She said she felt Congress needed to have greater diversity and not be so filled with former doctors and lawyers.
She added that earlier this year, people in her neighourhoud had Joe Kent signs up in their yards rather than those of Ms Herrra Beutler.
“I watched some YouTube videos of this guy and realised holy cow, you know, this is a guy with really bad ideas and really nice hair. And this could go south really, really easily,” she said.
“Congress needs to look more like America and we need more people that work in the trades, rural voters, young families” to deliver the results, she said.
“So I believed that I was the candidate, and am the candidate who can stop Joe Kent,” she added.