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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Oregon voters select Democratic candidates in key US House races

Democrats decided who will run against a first-term GOP incumbent in one U.S. House race, and who will attempt to replace a retiring longtime Democratic U.S. representative in another.

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Voters in Oregon cast their votes Tuesday in two key Democratic primary elections in races that could flip the U.S. House of Representatives come November. 

In Oregon’s 5th District, the winner of Tuesday’s primary will challenge the district’s first-term GOP incumbent in the General Election. A Democratic win in that race could seal the deal for Democrats seeking to control Congress. 

As of 10 p.m. Pacific Time Tuesday, Janelle Bynum dominated with 69.88% of the vote, while Jamie McLeod-Skinner had 29.5%. 

Bynum is a state representative, while McLeod-Skinner is a longtime public official.

“I think the edge for Jamie McLeod-Skinner is that the district knows her,” Jim Moore, an associate professor of international and state politics at Pacific University, told Courthouse News earlier this month. “She has been their nominee before. Then she also brings in real progressive types, which is how she won the primary two years ago, and then it's blamed for why she lost the election in the fall.”

But Bynum, Moore explained, has twice beat Chavez-DeRemer in previous races and gathered the entire Democratic establishment of the state behind her, including Oregon Governor Tina Kotek and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Bynum said on X Tuesday night that she was honored to be the Democratic nominee for the district.

"As a mother of four, I’m running to make the future brighter for them and every child across Oregon. And with your support, I know we'll bring this fight to Congress. Onward to November!" she wrote.

The 5th District has a diverse mix of voters from the southeast suburbs of Portland, parts of Marion County and most or all of Linn, Clackamas and Deschutes Counties.

State election data from May 5 indicates that roughly 35% of registered voters in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District are “non-affiliated” with any political party, while 31% are Democrats and 27% are Republicans. The district elected Republican U.S. Representative Lori Chavez-DeRemer in 2022 after a major redistricting and 17 years of Democratic representation.

Meanwhile, the race in the state’s 3rd Congressional District — which encompasses all of east Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, Hood River County and parts of northern Clackamas County — will determine who is replacing retiring U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, who has served in the seat for 27 years. 

Blumenauer has spent his nearly three decades in office advocating for marijuana reform and investment projects in bicycle commuting, among other items. 

The electorate in his district are predominantly Democratic voters who are likely to vote for a progressive candidate in November. 

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Maxine Dexter had a significant lead in the district’s Democratic primary with 50.94% of the vote. Susheela Jayapal was in second with 28.08%, and Eddy Morales trailed with 14.24%.

Dexter is a state representative, while Jayapal is a former Multnomah county commissioner and Morales is a city councilor for Gresham. All three candidates share progressive priorities for affordable housing, accessible health care and addressing climate change.

Blumenauer congratulated Dexter in a statement on Tuesday evening.

“I want to congratulate Representative Maxine Dexter for winning the Democratic primary for Oregon's Third Congressional District. Maxine has proven herself to be a serious and effective legislator, I am confident she'll take this success with her to Washington, D.C." he said.

“I look forward to partnering with her to ensure our district is well-served when she is elected in November. There is a lot of work to do on behalf of our community," he added.

Due to Dexter’s concurring occupation as a local pulmonologist, the candidate received $2.2 million in campaign advertising from the 314 Action Fund — a political action committee that helps elect Democratic candidates with scientific backgrounds.

The super PAC’s May 20 filings with the Federal Election Commission indicate that its top donors through the end of April included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — a previous supporter of the American Israel Political Action Committee — and Jane Street Capital co-founder Robert Granieri, who previously donated to a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

In early May, Jayapal and Morales criticized Dexter for benefiting from so-called “undisclosed donors” while claiming to support campaign transparency and election finance reform. At the time, the 314 Action Fund was fully compliant in meeting its federal disclosure deadlines. 

Around the same time, The Intercept claimed in its reporting AIPAC had been washing money through 314 Action Fund to target Jayapal over her suspected pro-Palestinian stance. Jayapal’s sister, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus and called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war last October.

Since then, a brand-new super PAC, Voters for Responsive Government, has also spent over $3 million in negative advertising against Jayapal.

Follow @alannamayhampdx
Categories / Government, Politics, Regional

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