Democrats in blame game over Oregon congressional loss
Who lost Oregon's 5th Congressional District?
It's the question ricocheting around the state, in social media and commentaries as post mortems begin in the victory of Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the 5th Congressional District race.
Even before Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner conceded Sunday afternoon, the blame game was getting louder among Democrats, their allies and analysts. As Republicans struggled to get over the 218-seat line that would give them control of the U.S. House they had lost in 2018, the Oregon race was seen as a self-inflicted wound for Democrats.
"A critical GOP pickup," The Cook Political Report said on Twitter Sunday as it too rated the race a win for Chavez-DeRemer.
As of late Monday afternoon, Chavez-DeRemer had a 6,502-vote lead with the district-wide ballot count at 315,682. The vote showed the Republican with 50.90% of the vote and McLeod-Skinner at 48.84%. Ballots postmarked Nov. 8 or earlier will be counted through Tuesday, Nov. 15. Unofficial final results in all races are expected Wednesday.
But the recriminations over the GOP flipping a congressional seat started early.
National returns as of Monday afternoon projected Republicans had won 212 seats against 204 for Democrats in races called by the Associated Press. Of the 435 U.S. House seats, 19 remained undecided. But trends showed Republicans had a much higher likelihood of getting to the minimum 218 seats needed to take the majority in the chamber.
Democrats currently have a 220-212 majority in the U.S. House, with three vacancies. The party of a new president usually loses seats in the first midterm after their election, but President Joe Biden was on track for the best showing of a new president in two decades.
Democrats won the U.S. Senate, with a 50-49 majority, including the re-election of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. The Democratic-held seat in Georgia goes to a Dec. 3 runoff. In the U.S. Senate, Democrats will finish no worse than the current 50-50 split that gives Democrats control with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break tie votes.
But hopes of holding onto the House majority faded Sunday. While Democrats picked up the new 6th district in Oregon, the loss in the 5th district meant Democrats would hold four seats, while Chavez-DeRemer would join U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, in giving Republicans two of Oregon's seats for the first time since the 1994 election.
National Democrats and some media outside of Oregon blamed McLeod-Skinner for her insurgent campaign that ousted seven-term U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, in the May primary.
Josh Krashauer, senior political writer for the website Axios, used a popular nickname for conservative Democrats to underline McLeod-Skinner's running to Schrader's left in a closed Democratic primary.
"The decision to primary a popular Blue Dog Dem could end up costing Dems the majority," he tweeted Sunday.
The New York Times analysis of the national election results said "voters voiced their support for moderation," with Doug Mastriano, the Trump-backed candidate for Illinois governor who lost in the biggest non-incumbent landslide in the state since 1946. The top exhibit on the other end of the political spectrum was McLeod-Skinner.
"A liberal Democrat in Oregon who beat a veteran centrist House Democrat in the primary, Representative Kurt Schrader, lost the seat for her party to the G.O.P., a stinging blow to the Democrats' chances of holding their majority," the article said.
But McLeod-Skinner's allies pointed back at national Democrats, who they say abandoned support for McLeod-Skinner, in part out of anger that she had bucked the will of party elders to challenge Schrader.
"This seat could have made the majority, but the national Democratic PACs walked away and left Jamie to twist in the wind," said Rob Duffey, spokesman for the Working Families Party, a national minor party that often backs progressive Democrats.
Duffey slammed The House Majority PAC, which is run by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for snubbing McLeod-Skinner while dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the neighboring 6th district to help Oregon Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego, beat back a Republican challenge.
Intercept, a left-leaning news and commentary website, also blamed Pelosi for a move that could lead to her losing the speakership to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
"Republicans, on the other hand, treated the race in Oregon's 5th District as the toss-up it clearly was," the Intercept wrote Monday "They spent nearly $8 million in total — spending that ballooned all the way through Election Day."
Republicans rejected both views, saying Chavez-DeRemer represented the preferred political views of the district, which on paper had a slight Democratic tilt.
"Lori Chavez-DeRemer will be a strong voice for conservative solutions in Washington," McCarthy wrote. "Looking forward to working side by side with Lori."
Who: Lori Chavez-DeRemer, 53
Office: U.S. Representative-elect
District: Oregon 5th Congressional District, which includes portions of Deschutes, Clackamas, Multnomah, Marion and Linn counties
Takes office: January 2023
Family: Married for 30 years to Shawn DeRemer, a physician specializing in anesthesiology. The couple have twin adult daughters, Annie and Emilie, 26. Annie works in Shawn DeRemer's medical business, while Emilie is a public defender in Michigan.
Residence: Happy Valley, Clackamas County. Chavez-DeRemer has said she would move into the nearby 5th district if elected.
Political history: Happy Valley City Council, 2004-2010. Happy Valley Mayor 2010-2018. Republican nominee for Oregon House District 51 in 2016 and 2018, losing to Rep. Janelle Bynum. Delegate pledged to Donald Trump at 2020 Republican National Convention.
Education: California State University, Fresno, bachelor of arts in business administration Management, 1990
Work: Business manager for Evolve Health, a intravenous infusion and wellness business, co-owned by her husband, Shawn DeRemer, a physician specializing in anesthesiology. Patients with a doctor's referral can receive infusions for autoimmune deficiencies. It also offers ketamine infusions approved for treating depression. Previously worked in her husband's medical practice, as a substitute teacher and in wine sales.
Worth: $8.7 million or more, according to federal campaign finance disclosure statements. Assets included interests in her husband's infusion and wellness business, and a 10% share of SSJD Consulting, a Portland-area cannabis producer. The couple's home is valued at $1 million.
Home town: Grew up in Hanford, California
The Oregon Capital Bureau is a news partner of the Pamplin Media group.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.
Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!