The Time Is Now

Support local, independent reporting.

Help the city we love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.


U.S. Rep Earl Blumenauer Will Face a Democratic Primary Challenge in 2020

Albert Lee would be Oregon’s first biracial congressman.

Albert Lee and Charles Rand Barnett will challenge U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) in the 2020 Democratic primary for Oregon's 3rd Congressional District, which stretches from Mount Hood to the West Hills of Portland.

Lee, 44, is the dean of Portland Community College's Business and Computing division and the secretary of the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon's board of directors. He's also affiliated with the city's Independent Police Review, Jo Ann Hardesty's campaign and Health Care for All Oregon, among others.

Lee is running to "change the system" through "drastic action," according to his campaign website. His climate-centered policy seeks to rebuild the U.S. and its infrastructure by combating climate change with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal and moving military resources and funding toward what he calls a "green industrial complex."

"I looked at what's been done by our leadership,"  Lee said, "and I don't really think that much has been addressed."

He also questions capitalism's place during a time of global climate catastrophe, calling to end wealth inequality and resource waste by instituting living wages and strengthening unions. His ideas parallel his dues-paying membership in the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Lee's father is African American and his mother is Korean. If elected, he would be Oregon's first biracial congressional representative.

Charles Rand Barnett, who won less than 2 percent of the vote in May 2018, will run again. He's also campaigning to immediately take action through a carbon tax and by expanding environmental regulations on industry, among other methods, according to his campaign website.

"I'm offering myself as a backup to what Rep. Blumenauer is doing. In a lot of ways, I want to continue the work that he's doing up there," Barnett said. "Whether people want to vote for me instead of him, that's a tough sell… In a lot of ways, we're fighting for the same things."

Blumenauer has held this seat since 1996, specializing in transportation and the legalization of cannabis in Oregon, other states and at the federal level. He supports the impeachment of President Donald Trump, and he attended a small "Impeach Trump" rally in downtown Portland on Saturday, June 15, according to The Oregonian.