PORTLAND, Ore. — Seven-term U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader has been ousted in a Democratic primary in Oregon by progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
The vote count in the state's 5th Congressional District was significantly delayed due to ballots with blurry bar codes in Oregon’s third-largest being rejected by vote-counting machines. Workers in Clackamas County had to transfer votes by hand to fresh ballots so they could be tallied.
McLeod-Skinner had the backing of the local Democratic parties in all four counties covered by the redrawn 5th Congressional District seat. She had urged stronger action to combat climate change and complained that Schrader was too conservative.
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.”
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.”
Schrader issued a statement on Friday conceding the race, thanking his supporters and congratulating McLeod-Skinner on her victory. He also lamented what he construed as a shift in political ideology that led to the loss.
"I have striven to represent the entire district regardless of party affiliation, be a fiscally responsible voice of moderation, and worked across the aisle to bring our State and Country together," Schrader wrote. "This is who I am and how I have served Oregon for over 25 years in elected office. The majority of Democrats have chosen a different direction for now.
"I do hope that at some point in time, working together as representatives of our respective districts, we find common ground instead of promoting an ideological agenda that can come back into vogue in both the Democrat and Republican parties. Our state and our country desperately need to be more unified in these difficult times ahead."
Schrader, a moderate, had the support of President Joe Biden, who made the congressman his first endorsement of the year. 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.
Schrader has faced mounting criticism from progressive Democrats. 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.
The newly-drawn 5th District stretched from the Portland-area southeast into rural communities in the central part of the state. While Democrats have held the seat since 1997, there are concerns by some in the party that a more progressive candidate would face a tougher time getting elected in the region after it was changed following redistricting.