Jamie McLeod-Skinner, of Terrebonne, has won the Democratic primary for the right to run against 10-term U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, according to preliminary returns.

McLeod-Skinner held nearly a 2-to-1 margin late Tuesday night over Jennifer Neahring, of Bend. Jim Crary, the 2016 Democratic primary winner, was in third.

Walden was easily winning the Republican primary. Mark Roberts ran unopposed for the Independent Party nomination.

Calling herself a “rural Democrat,” McLeod-Skinner was one of the most active of the seven Democrats in the race, criss-crossing the state with her 2-year-old Doberman, Moshi, riding along in her blue Jeep Wrangler with a mini-trailer hitched to the back.

“The first job is to show up,” McLeod-Skinner said. “Show up and listening and working with folks. Private and public sector, nonprofits and the tribes. That’s the key to good governance. I think that is a weak point for Greg Walden.”

Walden could not be reached for comment.

Democrats will kick off their campaign against Walden on Wednesday with a noon rally in front of his office in downtown Bend.

Democrats have an uphill fight in the race. Walden has won by no less than 60 percent in his re-election bids. The district has only been represented by a Democrat twice since it was created in the 19th century. According to several national political forecasts, the district is considered a “safe Republican” seat. It is the only one of five congressional districts in Oregon represented by a Republican.

Walden has raised $3.6 million while McLeod-Skinner raised under $150,000. Whether Democrats will pump significant resources into McLeod-Skinner’s campaign remains to be seen.

Democrats are hoping they can add to several upsets in special elections of districts or states considered Republican strongholds.

The 2nd Congressional District is one of the largest in the country, covering more territory than any state east of the Mississippi River. The district includes all of Eastern and Central Oregon, and much of the southern part of the state.

Democrats were energized by Walden’s lead role in several controversial actions by Congress. As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden dealt with the tax cuts that Trump signed into law, the end to net neutrality and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Walden was also active in discussions to reduce the size of the Cascades-Siskiyou National Monument.

The Democratic primary race was a mostly cordial contest with candidates focused on how to beat Walden instead of beating up on each other.

— Reporter: 640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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