Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Crooked River Ranch was endorsed in the 2022 race for the 5th Congressional District seat by the only other current Democratic challenger to incumbent U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby.
In a joint press call with McLeod-Skinner, Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba said he was ending his own insurgent campaign to challenge Schrader from the left in the May 2022 primary and would instead endorse McLeod-Skinner.
Gamba lost the 2020 primary to Schrader.
“One of us has to beat Schrader, so if it’s you that has the best shot, I will back you to the hilt,” Gamba said.
McLeod-Skinner thanked Gamba and said she would work to increase aid for housing, health care and other issues that both said Schrader has undercut in opposing parts of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan.
“Oregon’s working families are proud. We don’t expect the government to do everything, but we’d like a little help during the tough times,” McLeod-Skinner said.
Gamba’s move was part of a cycle of political musical chairs set off by new congressional districts approved Sept. 27 by the Legislature and Gov. Kate Brown.
The revised map cut Schrader’s district in half, retaining the eastern portions. The new 5th District runs from the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland, south to the outskirts of Corvallis, before going east.
At the Cascades, it narrows along U.S. Highway 20 as it cuts between Three Fingered Jack to the north and Mount Washington to the south. The district then widens out downslope on the east side to take in Bend and parts of Redmond and Sunriver.
The Deschutes County portion of the new district is currently in the 2nd Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario.
Schrader’s home of Canby is still within the new 5th District. But the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require U.S. House members to live in their districts, just the state they represent.
That gives Schrader the option of switching to a run for the 6th District, leaving the 5th District race wide open.
A Schrader spokeswoman has said the congressman plans to run for “election” to the House, but would not go into specifics.
In a recent interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Schrader said he was considering his options.
“We’re trying to figure that out right now,” Schrader told OPB. “I’ve enjoyed representing the district I currently have… It’s going to be bittersweet no matter how it turns out.”
Added to the mix is a Republican lawsuit against the maps now being heard by a special panel of five retired judges named by the Oregon Supreme Court. They could recommend that the Supreme Court accept the maps or suggest they be revised. The process could drag on into the new year.
McLeod-Skinner filed to run for the 5th District with the Federal Elections Commission earlier this week.
The Thursday event with Gamba was her public announcement of her plans. She previously ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2018 and secretary of state in 2020, losing both races.
Gamba’s withdrawal is part of McLeod-Skinner’s drive to build support west of the Cascades. On Thursday, she also announced endorsements by Sen. Kayse Jama, D-Portland; West Linn Mayor Jules Walters and Linn Benton Lincoln Education Service District board member Miriam Cummins.
Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang is a key supporter east of the Cascades. McLeod-Skinner said she also has the backing of The Vocal Seniority, a part of the “Indivisible” group of progressive community and interest groups.
After the 2020 Labor Day fires, McLeod-Skinner served as interim City Manager in Talent, which lost one-third of its homes and businesses to a rapidly moving blaze that also destroyed parts of nearby Phoenix.
McLeod-Skinner’s campaign says she worked to bring in millions of dollars in disaster aid and start the city’s rebuilding process.
If elected, McLeod-Skinner would be Oregon’s first out LGBTQ+ member of Congress. Her wife, Cass McLeod-Skinner, an attorney, is aiding in the campaign.
Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, a Republican, has announced she will run in the 5th District. Former state Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, has said she is looking at the race.