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Fight for Oregon’s 5th district drives fundraising over $2.5 million

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Oregon Capital Bureau

The two major candidates for the open 5th Congressional District are neck-and-neck in campaign fundraising, with combined contributions topping $2.5 million so far.

New Federal Elections Commission filings show Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Terrebonne with an edge in cash on hand, but Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Happy Valley is attracting big national money in three different campaign accounts.

Both parties see the seat as a key to control of Congress, where Democrats hold a narrow 220-211 majority with four vacancies.

The 5th district race has been rated a toss-up by several top political forecasters such as the Cook Political Report. All 435 seats in the U.S. House are up for re-election.

McLeod-Skinner has raised $1,275,309 through June 30. That includes $582,525 during April, May and June, the latest quarter reported by the FEC. 

Chavez-DeRemer reported a total of $1,123,451 brought in for the same period. Her latest quarter included $204,254 in contributions and $126,000 in loans. In all, she has received $411,000 in loans since the beginning of her campaign.

Both candidates had contested primaries, which drove up early spending to win their party’s nomination.

McLeod-Skinner has spent $886,590 over the same period, defeating incumbent U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby who was seeking an eighth term.

In a warning that money helps but doesn’t automatically win a congressional race, Schrader spent over $5.1 million from a campaign fund accumulated over multiple terms in Congress.

Redistricting forced Schrader to compete for a seat where less than half of the voters were his current constituents. The boundaries were moved west, to run from Portland, over the Cascades, to northern Deschutes County.

Schrader had been criticized by McLeod-Skinner and other progressive Democrats for slowing or stalling key portions of President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief and infrastructure bills. He’s also in the minority of House Democrats who voted against U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, resuming her old position as House Speaker.

Both Pelosi and Biden endorsed Schrader in a show of support for incumbent Democrats seeking re-election. Pelosi and Biden have swung behind McLeod-Skinner in the aftermath of the primary.

Schrader’s contrarian political path was underlined again Monday when he endorsed unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson for the Oregon governorship. The former Democratic state senator from Scappoose is challenging former House Speaker Tina Kotek, the Democratic nominee, and former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, the Republican nominee.

“People are concerned with the far-right and they’re exhausted with the extremism on the left,” Schrader 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.”

Chavez-DeRemer’s expenditures are $954,706 through the end of June. She won a five-way race for the GOP nomination, receiving 48% of the vote. Billy Crumpacker, a Bend transplant from Portland who has made two unsuccessful bids for Congress, finished second with 29% of the vote. 

McLeod-Skinner has $388,719 on hand, while Chavez-DeRemer reported $168,744 in the bank.

McLeod-Skinner’s largest campaign contributors have been $5,000 from the National Organization for Women PAC, $5,000 from LPAC, which gives to candidates with a “commitment to LGBTQ and women’s equality,” and $4,000 from the Working Families Party PAC.

DeRemer’s top contributors are $10,000 from Elevate PAC, a project of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, the No. 3 leader in the House GOP, who is seeking to elect more conservative women to Congress. Stefanik’s support began with the primary. 

Chavez-DeRemer also received $1,800 from a joint fundraising PAC shared with Republican Alek Skarlatos, who is the Republican running for the 4th Congressional District against Democrat Val Hoyle. 

Both candidates said they were pleased with their fundraising at this still early point in the general election campaign.

McLeod-Skinner said in a statement that she was proud that 96% of her campaign contributions came from donors giving under $200. 

“We are focused on solutions for working Oregonians and lowering the cost of living — we refuse to take corporate PAC money or be driven by special interests, all while successfully outraising my opponent,” McLeod-Skinner said. “It’s time to ensure our elected leaders are answering to their constituents — not special interests or self-funded campaigns.” 

Jihun Han, spokesman for Chavez-DeRemer, said the candidate was making successful inroads with Republicans, unaffiliated voters and moderate Democrats.

“Volunteers and donors alike crave a member of congress who will tackle inflation, keep our communities safe, and stop the extreme left from further harm to our state and country,” Han said. “Lori is proud to be the only candidate in this race with a proven bipartisan track record of success and she’ll make a fantastic congresswoman.”


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