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Progressive ousts Biden-backed Schrader in Oregon primary

Democratic challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., took part in debate April 20 on NewsChannel 21
Democratic challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., took part in debate April 20 on NewsChannel 21

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Seven-term U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, a centrist who was endorsed by President Joe Biden, has been ousted in the Democratic primary in Oregon by progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner after results were delayed more than a week by a ballot-printing issue.

The vote count in the state’s 5th Congressional District was sloweed because tens of thousands of ballots were printed with blurry bar codes, making them unreadable by vote-counting machines. Workers in Clackamas County, the state’s third-largest county, had to transfer votes by hand to fresh ballots so they could be tallied. That process continued Friday for other races yet to be called.

McLeod-Skinner had the backing of the local Democratic parties in all four counties covered by the redrawn seat, which now leans a little less blue. In her campaign, she urged stronger action to combat climate change and complained that Schrader was too conservative. She also portrayed Schrader as a politician who. had lost touch with his party’s base and in the pocket of large pharmaceutical companies on issues like prescription drug prices.

McLeod-Skinner will face Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in November. Chavez-DeRemer is the former mayor of Happy Valley, Oregon. She has said she will support businesses and police and address “the crisis on our southern border.”

In a statement on Twitter, McLeod-Skinner thanked Schrader for his years of service and said Oregon Democrats should see the contest’s outcome as “an evaluation of our ideas and as a confirmation of our values.”

“From Sellwood to Sunriver, Oregonians never stopped believing we can protect our families, our climate and our civil rights,” she wrote. “Oregonians — this is your victory.”

Biden made Schrader his first endorsement of the year but it didn’t help the moderate Democrat in a district that now includes Bend, one of the state’s fastest-growing Democratic areas where McLeod-Skinner had more name recognition.

Schrader has voted against some of Biden’s priorities, including a money-saving plan to let Medicare negotiate the price it pays for prescription drugs. A year ago, he was one of only two members of his party to vote against a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill because, among several reasons, he did not support including an increase to the minimum wage.

Those decisions may be what cost him re-election, said John Horvick, political director at the nonpartisan public opinion firm DHM Research.

“He’s a moderate, but it’s more specific to the issues where he went against the party,” he said. “The big one is really his reluctance to support Democrats on prescription drugs. You can break with your party in a lot of different areas but a highly salient, deeply held position in the party — that was a deal breaker.”

What remains to be seen is if McLeod-Skinner will compete well in the general election in a district that is split fairly evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats’ hold on the seat could be at risk if moderate voters perceive her as too progressive, he said.

The Republican nominee, Chavez-DeRemer, is endorsed by the third-ranking House Republican, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York — an endorsement Chavez-DeRemer highlighted in her primary campaign in a crowded field. That might play well in more conservative parts of the redrawn district that stretches from the Portland suburbs toward rural central Oregon.

“To me, it’s a toss-up race going forward and candidate quality is going to matter,” Horvick said. “The opportunities for Oregon to be central in the national conversation is higher this cycle than any cycle I can think of in recent memory.”


This story has been updated to correct the description of Oregon’s redrawn 5th District.


Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at

Associated Press



    1. Boy…was I wrong about this one. It did not seem even conceivable that a Rep with independent thinking and a good track record, could be defeated by a candidate with no resume other than losing her last real job in less than six months. I over-estimated the intelligence of Democrat voters. It did not seem possible that Oregon voters could get a worse reputation for voting in inept candidates, after electing Kate Brown. What’s next, Kotek? Uh, probably.

      1. Right? It’s like electing a reality show orange assclown with multi bankruptcy’s to the highest office of the land. Who would be stupid enough to do that?

    2. I’m fine with her being a rep for District 5. Thing is, neither she nor I can vote for her since she won’t be on the ballot in Jefferson County, where she lives.

  1. Good on her if she beat Scrader but don’t vote for her in general election. She is a liberal candidate and supports most of the Democrat’s woke agenda.

      1. Ur right Yada. Democrats have ruined this state. I’m just taking care of family members that can’t leave and when I’ve got a chance u can have this liberal hell hole. Breaks my heart to see what it had become. Breaks the hearts of the people that have lived here their whole life. Bend will soon be the same cesspool Portland is.

      2. Typical smug reply from a “liberal”. Born and raised here, Oregon is my state too. I make no apologies for being who I am, and I’m here to stay. I’m even an upper middle class white male that works hard for everything he’s got, including his AR-15s. 😂

  2. She’s better for the US but worse for the democrats. The parties obviously care more about the party than they do about the Nation.

  3. Forth time is the charm!

    And all it took to make McLeod-Skinner competitive was redrawing the district into a completely gerrymander!

  4. We’ll see if the trumplicans can back a moderate. If they stay home, it’s Mcleod-Skinner. But then again, they think elections are rigged.

  5. If every politician has to vote “the party line” all the time, then we could cut the total number of Senators to two, one from each party. We could cut the number of representatives to about a dozen. That’d save a lot of $ on salary politicians, staff, and committees. It’d certainly speed up legislation as debate would be pretty short.

    1. Dang. A radical left liberal that that’s claims fighting climate change as her top priority. That translates to someone’s who could give 2 sheets about the ever growing utilities and gas bills for the common low and middle classer. But that’s what libs are known for. Why would I expect different.

  6. A few of the heads of the democratic party in Oregon decided who they wanted to win. They used Clackamas County situation to make up their minds. Same way Biden got the Dem nomination in 2020 when he was going no where fast then suddenly everyone resigned and he got everything. At least the national dems didnt get behind on time and have to pull a clackamas county thing to get more time, they waited for the election to do that but thats another story. A decision was made and they installed who they wanted. They need to make their decisions sooner however to make it look good.

  7. I love how there are countless progressives calling for us to move on various articles. I suggest in one that we stay and fight for what’s red and if the woman don’t like it, she can move to blue Portland…..boom not allowed…. while we have to hear all these sad stories about being divided

  8. Ok, Schrader is a waste of time. He bombarded us with commercials non stop and just wore out his welcome. McLeod was picked because of her support of the leftist woke agenda and her sexual preference, just like Brownstain and Kotex. This state is forever a left wing dump, like Commiefornia and Washington and will never change. Everything east of the Cascades doesn’t matter to them. You will NEVER win another election as long as they have suck power and mail in elections. Also, you will NEVER do whats necessary to take the state back. T-minus 3 days and counting and I am out of this cesspool.

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