Kurt Schrader, a more than ten-year member of Congress from Oregon who often voted with Republicans against Democratic policy positions, will not be returning to the House of Representatives in 2023, the Associated Press projected today.
Though ballot counting is still ongoing, the AP has called the Democratic primary in Oregon’s 5th District for Schrader’s opponent Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who had the support of four of the district’s six Democratic county party organizations.
McLeod-Skinner, who previously ran for Congress unsuccessfully in Oregon’s 2nd District four years ago, will now have the responsibility of keeping the 5th District in Democratic hands as one of the party’s nominees for Congress.
The new 5th spans the Cascades, not unlike Washington’s 8th, encompassing the city of Bend and nearby communities like Oregon’s Redmond. It includes parts of Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Linn County, Marion County, and Deschutes County along with a small slice of Jefferson County.
“I’m honored to be elected as Oregon’s Democratic Nominee for Congress in OR‑5,” said McLeod-Skinner in a statement posted to Twitter.
“From Sellwood to Sunriver, Oregonians never stopped believing we can protect our families, our climate and our civil rights. Oregonians — this is your victory.”
“I want to thank Kurt Schrader for his years of service representing our state. Democrats need to see these contests as an evaluation of our ideas and as a confirmation of our values. I look forward to working together for the best interests of Oregonians. What we want is simple: Oregonians want to put a roof over our heads & food on our tables. We want opportunities for our kids & affordable healthcare for our loved ones when they are sick. We want our kids to be safe in their schools & we don’t want our homes to burn down.”
“Our country belongs to the working people who built it: the hard working nurses, teachers, grocery clerks, home care workers, longshoremen and warehouse workers. Their work demands respect. Americans are working hard to stay afloat, but not sharing in the success of their hard work. Corporate CEOs are reaping the profits while working people are paid pennies on the dollar. Enough is enough.”
“We ran a people-centered campaign, without taking a single corporate dollar. And in Congress, I will fight for you — not for the corporations.”
Schrader has not, to our knowledge, commented yet on the AP’s race call.
But others are weighing in.
“Kurt Schrader has been bought and paid for –– it’s about time Oregon voters sent him packing,” said Evergreen Action Executive Director Jamal Raad. “His defeat today sends a clear message that members of Congress must deliver on climate. From Australia to Oregon, voters are demanding bold climate action from their elected officials, and falling short can cost candidates their jobs.”
“Voters around the world, and across the political spectrum, understand that the climate crisis is the most consequential threat of our time and its demands are non-negotiable. Voters are raising the standard of climate leadership expected from their representatives, and obstructionist tactics to block climate action from politicians in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry will not stand.
“Representative Schrader has stuck like a sharp thorn in the side of President Biden’s agenda. His move to decouple the Build Back Better reconciliation package from the [Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] and his vote against the Clean Electricity Performance Program sent a clear message to voters in his district that he was not working for them. The outcome in Oregon’s 5th District should serve as a warning sign to Democrats up and down the ballot that climate must be a top priority if they hope to keep their seats in November.”
Republican operatives have suggested that Schrader’s loss will make it easier for them to flip the seat. But that’s just wishful thinking, Democratic leaders say. McLeod-Skinner is actually the one who puts them in a better position to win, especially since she has run in the portion of the district that’s east of the mountains already, while Schrader hasn’t (due to redistricting).
The chair of the Deschutes County Democrats says McLeod-Skinner is “one of the hardest working candidates I have ever met.” That rigorous work ethic will undoubtedly serve the Democratic Party well this autumn, as it will ensure Democrats have a nominee who is not complacent, as Schrader obviously was.
The whole point of a primary, such as the one Oregon just held, is to empower voters to set the field of candidates in addition to deciding who ultimately represents them. A meaningful primary that serves democracy is not a pro forma nominating exercise — it is a competition to pick a standard bearer.
The Democratic voters in Oregon’s 5th had an important choice to make this year. They’ve chosen the candidate who does not take corporate money and will vote enthusiastically to advance Democratic causes in the next Congress.
McLeod-Skinner is a rural Democrat who loves meeting people and loves to campaign. She is well respected and regarded in Oregon politics. Now she has a good chance of joining Oregon’s congressional delegation.
7 PM UPDATE: Schrader has conceded the race, stating:
I congratulate my opponent on her tireless efforts and successful primary campaign. It has been my honor to serve as Representative for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District for these past fourteen years.
We have had some great successes.
No longer will the entrance to Tillamook Bay be a hazard.
The Aurora Donald interchange on I‑5 will be rebuilt and much safer.
The Willamette Locks look to once again be a historic economic opportunity for our region.
And, we have been extremely successful in getting FEMA to step up in a huge way for the folks in the Santiam Canyon whose lives were devastated by the fires that engulfed their communities in 2020.
In the ensuing six months I look forward to continuing to serve our constituent needs whether it be veterans benefits, Social Security, IRS, student loans and whatever we can do to make your government work for you.
“We hope we can count on your support in the fall to keep Oregon Blue,” Indivisible Clackamas tweeted in response. “Your term is not up for six months, let’s get some climate and voting rights legislation passed!!”