U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Will Visit Portland Suburbs on Wednesday

The top House Republican will stump for four GOP congressional candidates and focus attention on crime.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will make a campaign stop in the Portland metro area Wednesday.

McCarthy’s visit is intended to show support for three GOP challengers and an incumbent trying to claim seats in newly redrawn congressional districts, which look different both because of recent redistricting and the addition of a sixth congressional seat.

Over the past decade, Oregon Republicans haven’t had much of a shot at any seat except in the sprawling 2nd District, which is overwhelmingly Republican and currently in the hands of U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.).

Three things are different this year. First, nobody has every held the 6th District before. In that race, state Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) enjoys a registration advantage over Republican Mike Erickson, a Lake Oswego businessman. But Erickson handily defeated a highly regarded lawmaker, state Rep. Ron Noble (R-McMinnville), in the GOP primary and brings substantial wealth to the race.

In the 5th District, Democrat Jamie McLeod Skinner knocked out incumbent U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) in the primary, so that is an open seat as well. That’s a better opportunity for a pickup by Republican Lori Chavez DeRemer, the former mayor of Happy Valley, than the GOP has seen for a long time.

Finally, the retirement of the longest-serving congressman in Oregon history, 4th District U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who has held his seat since 1987, gives Republicans a chance in a district where they’ve long been shut out. In that race, Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, DeFazio’s anointed successor, faces Republican Alek Skarlatos, the former Oregon National Guardsman who narrowly lost to DeFazio in 2020.

Democrats have about a 25,000-voter registration advantage over Republicans in the 5th and 6th districts (about 5 percentage points) and about a 40,000-voter advantage in the 4th District (about 8 percentage points, nearly doubled by redistricting), which means all three have the potential to be close races.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report says the 4th and 6th districts “lean Democratic” while rating the 5th District closer, a “Democratic toss-up.”

That’s more hope than Republicans usually have in Oregon, hence McCarthy’s visit, which will focus on the red-meat issue of crime, albeit from the safe environs of the Grand Hotel at Bridgeport in Tigard.

McCarthy will join Bentz, the three GOP congressional nominees, a slew of local elected officials, and Gresham Police Officers Association president Tommy Walker for what’s billed as a discussion of “Portland’s rising crime rates and the negative impact liberal policies have caused across communities beyond the city of Portland.”

McCarthy will appear at 2 pm.