Democratic congressional nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner
Democratic congressional nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner

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.

It’s the first time in over four decades that an incum­bent has lost a con­gres­sion­al pri­ma­ry in Ore­gon, the state’s NPR affil­i­ate Ore­gon Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing not­ed.

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!!”

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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