For the first time in more than a decade, three of Oregon’s six congressional seats are competitive, and Oregon’s congressional delegation could include more than one Republican.
The retirement of 35-year incumbent Peter DeFazio in the 4th Congressional District, the primary defeat of incumbent Kurt Schrader in the 5th, and a new 6th district following the 2020 Census give Oregon voters a chance to elect three new representatives and affect the partisan balance of the U.S. House of Representatives.
All three races are too close to call.
Flipping the 5th?
The most likely GOP pickup could come in the open-seat race for the 5th District between Republican candidate Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
The District went for Joe Biden by nine points in 2020. In the May primaries, President Biden endorsed incumbent Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader, who had held the seat since 2009 but went on to lose the primary to progressive candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
Schrader’s defeat “potentially boosted the chances of Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer,” analysts Geoffrey Skelley and Ryan Best wrote for FiveThirtyEight.
Chavez-DeRemer, is a businesswoman and the former mayor of Happy Valley, Oregon, who has focused her campaign on kitchen-table issues.
“I will keep our taxes low, fully fund our police, and expand educational opportunities for our children,” Chavez-DeRemer wrote on her campaign website.
“My opponent has marched for the defund the police movement three times,” she claimed.
McLeod-Skinner said she is “committed to lowering the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, helping families in this difficult economy, and implementing proven solutions to tackle crime.”
She criticized Chavez-DeRemer’s position on abortion.
“My opponent would ban access to abortion before a woman knows she’s pregnant…and “is trying to take away our reproductive rights; I will defend them,” McLeod-Skinner wrote on her website.
McLeod-Skinner’s early advantage in funding has fizzled.
“Democrats moved money from this open seat into two neighboring districts, a sign of pessimism about the party’s chance to hold it,” wrote Politico forecaster Steve Shepard on October 26.
The Republican Party Super PAC has spent $5.3 million to help Chavez-DeRemer while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent just $1.85 million to boost McLeod-Skinner.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as “‘Leans Republican.”
The New 6th District
Republican supply chain and logistics consultant Mike Erickson hopes to be the first to represent Oregon’s new 6th District. He is running against Oregon State Rep. Andrea Salinas, a Democrat.
Erickson says he would “tackle inflation and fuel costs immediately” as well as keep citizens safe by “supporting law enforcement and curtailing drug trafficking through our unsecured southern border.”
He identified energy independence as his top priority to reduce inflation and said he would work to “resume forest management activities by reducing the burdens of federal bureaucracy.”
Salinas is a former legislative aide for the late Sen. Harry Reed, a Democrat. She has served in the Oregon legislature since 2017 and was minority whip of the House Democratic Caucus.
She describes herself as an “advocate for labor unions, environmental groups, and reproductive rights organizations like the Oregon Environmental Council, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), and more.”
Salina says she would govern with an “equity and justice lens.”
Erickson has loaned his campaign more than 2.4 million. As of Nov. 3, he had raised 3.47 million compared with 2.87 million raised by Salinas, according to the Federal Elections Commission.
Outside groups have spent $3.88 million attacking Erickson according to nonpartisan watchdog Open Secrets.
The Congressional Leadership Fund made an $800,000 late ad buy to defend Erickson.
The Cook Political Report now considers the race a “toss-up.”
Fighting for the 4th
The retirement of Democrat Congressman DeFazio put the 4th Congressional District in play for the first time in decades.
Vying to fill that seat are Republican Alek Skarlotos and Democrat Val Hoyle.
Rep. DeFazio rallied Democrats in Eugene on Sunday at a “get out the vote” event for Hoyle and Democrat gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek.
“We need someone with legislative experience who can hit the ground running in DC in a very, very difficult environment,” he told Hoyle supporters.
Hoyle’s campaign website lists her priorities as reproductive rights followed by climate and the environment, working families, and gun safety.
“We need to urgently transition to a clean energy economy,” former Oregon Labor Commissioner Hoyle said in a public forum. “I want to make sure that money [from the President’s infrastructure bill] comes to Oregon and to the 4th Congressional District, whether it’s building up a levee in Newport … or a container port in Coos Bay or offshore wind.”
Skarlatos supports the offshore wind farm, but is concerned about where it might be built.
“They want to put it right in the middle of the most productive fishing grounds on the Oregon coast,” said Skarlotos, who vows to fight for the district’s natural resources industries and bring “compromise and common” sense to such decisions.
The wood products industry alone creates 119,836 direct forest sector jobs across the Northwest, according to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.
“Under Democrat leadership, our district has become one of the poorest in the state,” Skarlatos told The Epoch Times. “And President Biden’s policies have made the challenges facing middle-class families even more difficult.”
“I will work to enact policies that will fight inflation, support economic initiatives that will create good paying jobs, and seek solutions to reduce the cost of healthcare.”
A former Oregon National Guardsman who rose to prominence after helping to stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015, Skarlatos ran the closest race ever mounted against DeFazio in 2020, coming within five percentage points.
The redrawn boundaries of the 4th Congressional District give Democrats a nine-point advantage in the general election, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Cook Political Report rates the contest as “Lean Democrat.”