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Rep. Kurt Schrader throws support behind Betsy Johnson in race for Oregon governor

Schrader was ousted from Oregon's 5th Congressional District in this year's May primary election. Johnson is running for governor as an unaffiliated candidate.
Credit: AP
FILE - Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., speaks during a news conference in Washington, on July 24, 2019. President Joe Biden is endorsing incumbent Schrader ahead of Oregon's primary election. Schrader is a moderate who hasn't always backed all of Biden's agenda. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Ousted U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader has thrown his support behind fellow moderate Betsy Johnson in the race for Oregon governor, Johnson's campaign announced Monday.

Schrader has represented Oregon's 5th Congressional District since 2009, but his bid for an eighth term ended in May when he lost the Democratic primary election to challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who will now go on to face Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general election.

Johnson served in the Oregon State Senate as a Democrat, but she's running for governor as an unaffiliated candidate, decrying what she has characterized as the extreme positions of both major parties and casting herself as a middle-of-the-road alternative.

RELATED: Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeats Kurt Schrader in Oregon Democratic primary

Schrader has historically staked out a similar moderate image, and he leaned into that parallel in his endorsement of Johnson.

"People are concerned with the far-right and they’re exhausted with the extremism on the left," he said in a statement. "It seems the extremes on both sides just want to fight, leaving the rest of us frustrated. I believe Betsy Johnson is the leader Oregon needs to move us forward."

The 5th district was heavily redrawn during last year's redistricting process, shifting it geographically to the east and creating a tougher primary map for Schrader, who had increasingly come under fire from fellow Democrats for recent votes against major pieces of Democratic legislation. 

As an unaffiliated candidate, Johnson skipped the primary and is currently gathering signatures to get her name added to the general election ballot alongside Democratic nominee Tina Kotek and Republican nominee Christine Drazan.

RELATED: How can poll results for the Oregon governor's race be so different?

Schrader's endorsement adds another high-profile political name to Johnson's list of public supporters, which includes former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Tina Kotek, who previously served as Oregon House speaker, has racked up endorsements from U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, current Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and two of her Democratic primary rivals: state treasurer Tobias Read and former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.

Drazan touts endorsements from U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, former Oregon House speaker Mark Simmons and Republican primary rivals Bud Pierce and Stan Pulliam.

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