Congressman’s ouster imperils Democrats’ hold on Oregon seat

Oct 20, 2022, 7:55 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2022, 9:55 am
Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, right, and Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer, left, participate in a de...

Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, right, and Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer, left, participate in a debate for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

(AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

              Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, right, and Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer, left, shake hands after a debate for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
            
              Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer speaks at a debate with Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
            
              Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner speaks at a debate with Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
            
              Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner speaks at a debate with Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
            
              Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer poses after a debate with Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
            
              Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, right, and Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer, left, participate in a debate for Oregon's 5th Congressional District at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, Ore., Monday, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. (AP) — Progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner made seven-term Rep. Kurt Schrader the first Democratic congressman to lose his reelection bid this year when she defeated him in their May primary.

His ouster from Oregon’s 5th District, along with new boundaries that make the district a little less blue, is complicating Democratic efforts to hold the seat in the November midterm elections.

As Election Day approaches, national political analysts are pegging the race between McLeod-Skinner and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer as a toss-up. The election of either candidate would be historic: McLeod-Skinner would be Oregon’s first openly gay congressional delegate, while Chavez-DeRemer is one of two House candidates aspiring to be the first Oregon Latina elected to Congress.

The 5th District isn’t the only surprisingly close contest for Democrats in Oregon: The party is under siege in a closely watched gubernatorial race and the newly formed 6th Congressional District is also competitive.

“It seems like there’s more opportunity for Republicans in Oregon than they’re used to having, and of all the competitive seats this is the most competitive,” said Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst with the nonpartisan University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“Oregon has been a headache for Democrats this election cycle,” he added.

Rapid growth made Oregon one of just six states to gain an additional seat in the U.S. House following the 2020 census. The state’s population jumped by more than 10% in the past decade to 4.2 million people, giving it the new 6th District but also radically changing the outlines of the neighboring 5th District.

The 5th’s new boundaries cut out the state’s central coast and shift the district dramatically to the east, stretching from tony suburbs in Portland’s southeast to central Oregon, a rural and more politically conservative region that also includes the left-leaning city of Bend.

McLeod-Skinner, who lives in central Oregon, has some name recognition from an unsuccessful 2018 congressional run in the 3rd District before redistricting drew the area into the 5th District. Chavez-DeRemer is a newcomer on the national stage, but earned a reputation for bipartisanship and budget transparency as mayor of Happy Valley, a rapidly growing suburb at the far eastern edge of Portland’s metropolitan area.

As buzz around the open seat grows, outside interests have opened their checkbooks.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super-PAC, has spent nearly $4.5 million to support Chevez-DeRemer. Its Democratic foil, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has put in $1.8 million for McLeod-Skinner. McLeod-Skinner has raised more than $4.8 million herself, nearly double her opponent’s roughly $2.6 million.

The funding has resulted in a wall-to-wall barrage of TV ads and stacks of election flyers to voters in a district not used to such attention.

Democrats retained a slight voter registration advantage in the newly drawn district, but to win both candidates must court unaffiliated voters, who make up a third of the electorate. The district as it is currently drawn would have gone for President Joe Biden by just under 9% in 2020 — not a significant difference from how it voted under the old boundaries.

“On paper, it’s a close district, it’s an open seat and it’s a year where Republicans have a lot of advantages,” said pollster John Horvick, vice president of DHM Research. He said homelessness and crime are “the main issues that voters are going to take into the voting booth,” perhaps even more than abortion rights, which are protected by Oregon’s Constitution.

“If this were a neutral year, you probably would expect the Democrats to have a good chance of holding it. But … I think that the environment is just more favorable towards Republicans right now.”

Against that backdrop, attorney and consultant McLeod-Skinner has sought to highlight Chavez-DeRemer’s contradictory statements on abortion and doubled down on the issue on the campaign trail.

Chavez-DeRemer tweeted in May that she would “be in favor of passing legislation like the heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortion after six weeks — a time when most women don’t know they’re pregnant. But in an interview with KGW-TV this month, Chavez-DeRemer said she supported abortion up until the end of the first trimester — or 12 weeks — and insisted, under follow-up questioning, that she had not changed her position.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Chavez-DeRemer said she would not vote for a federal ban on abortion it came before her as a congresswoman and she supported abortion in the first trimester in instances of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother.

“I don’t want to see it on the floor of Congress,” she said.

McLeod-Skinner said in a recent debate that although abortion is protected by Oregon law, it was “disingenuous” to think a bill to ban abortion at the national level wouldn’t come to the floor of Congress.

“It will fall on Congress to make this decision. We’ve seen it queued up,” she said.

Chavez-DeRemer has tried to move away from abortion by hammering on issues that have recently plagued Oregon, like homelessness, opioid addiction and escalating crime in Portland. She paints her opponent as a far-left radical who wants to defund police and frequently employs GOP talking points about inflation, out-of-control government spending and the need to get out from under “one-party rule.”

With the district so narrowly split between parties, the outcome in the election may come down to suburban women who are concerned about both quality-of-life issues like crime and homelessness but who also want to preserve abortion access, said Christopher Stout, an assistant professor of politics at Oregon State University.

“I think suburban women are really concerned about the Dobbs decision and the effect it’s going to have on their reproductive rights… but they’re also concerned about crime and homelessness,” he said.

____

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

___

Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter: @gflaccus

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Rebecca Boone, Associated Press

Victims’ families urge love, kindness as Idaho campus mourns

As hundreds of students mourned together inside the University of Idaho’s stadium Wednesday night, family members of four slain classmates urged them to raise their eyes from grief and focus on love and the future.
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Legal push to cut Puerto Rico power company debt delayed

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Efforts to restructure some $9 billion in debt held by Puerto Rico’s power company hit a new snag Thursday following multiple failed attempts to end its bankruptcy. Officials had until Thursday to submit a new proposal on how to cut the Electric Power Authority’s debt — the largest held […]
1 day ago
Auctioneer Markus Krause gestures in front of the painting 'Selbstbildnis gelb-rosa' (self-portrait...
Associated Press

Max Beckmann self-portrait sold at German auction for $20.7M

BERLIN (AP) — A self-portrait painted during World War II by German expressionist artist Max Beckmann sold Thursday in Berlin for 20 million euros ($20.7 million), a price that appears to be a record for an art auction in Germany. The buyer of Beckmann’s “Self-Portrait Yellow-Pink” at the Grisebach auction house in the German capital […]
1 day ago
FILE - Attorney Alexandra Benevento, center, speaks with reporters during a news conference announc...
Associated Press

Cheerleading abuse accusations increase to 20 with Ohio case

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The latest lawsuit in a series alleging widespread sexual misconduct across competitive cheerleading alleges that officials allowed two choreographers to continue working after they were investigated for sexual abuse. Snowballing accounts of cheerleaders’ alleged abuse have led to increased scrutiny around the sport since the founder of an elite South Carolina […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Russia implements expanded ‘foreign agents’ law

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Thursday put into effect a new version of its foreign agents law that expands authorities’ powers to consider anyone under “foreign influence” to be an agent of another country. Under previous versions of the law, officials had to show that an organization or individual had received financial or material assistance […]
1 day ago
FILE - Former FBI director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, June ...
Associated Press

IG: Tax audits in years of Comey, McCabe reviews were random

WASHINGTON (AP) — A watchdog investigation initiated after the tax returns of two former FBI directors were subjected to intensive audits during the Trump administration has concluded that the reviews from those years were conducted at random. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said Thursday that its review had determined that the Internal Revenue […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSPA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Congressman’s ouster imperils Democrats’ hold on Oregon seat