State Rep. Janelle Bynum Officially Enters 5th Congressional District Race

She will compete with other Democrats for the right to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez DeRemer

Rep. Janelle Bynum. (Mick Hangland-Skill)

State Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley) made it official today: She’s going to run for the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District next year.

“What I see in the House in Washington, D.C., is an extreme agenda,” Bynum says. “The people of Oregon deserve better than that.”

Oregon’s 5th Congressional District is evenly balanced, with Democrats currently holding a voter registration advantage of slightly less than 5 percentage points. And although observers typically regard the 5th as a swing district, DeRemer’s victory over Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner last year (50.9% to 48.8%) marked the first time a Republican had won the seat since Stan Bunn did it in 1994.

Bynum, 48, is in her fourth term in Salem. She currently chairs the House Committee on Economic Development and Small Business. A co-owner of McDonald’s franchises, she’s a business-friendly Democrat seeking to represent a purple congressional district.

Bynum says House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) called her and encouraged her to run.

“The path to winning back the House runs through Oregon,” Bynum says. (Republicans currently hold a 222-212 advantage in Congress with one seat vacant).

Bynum has some history with Chavez-DeRemer, having defeated her in 2016 to win her Oregon House seat and then again in 2018. But the contest for the Democratic nomination for Congress is likely to be highly competitive. Metro Council President Lynn Peterson already entered the race, and McLeod-Skinner, a lawyer and engineer from Terrebonne, told WW earlier this month she is very close to making a decision about her candidacy.

In Salem this session, Bynum played a lead role in passing legislation to incentivize semiconductor investments in Oregon. In the past, she led the passage of numerous police reform bills and increased funding for mental health services. She says she’s motivated to move to a bigger arena by a desire to see more and better housing for her children and their generation and for better health care, including mental health services for everyone.

“My expertise is getting stuff done while representing a swing district,” she says. “CD 5 is pretty close to the districts I’ve served—pretty purple.” (Bynum originally represented House District 51 but got redistricted into HD 39.)

Now, she’d like to move to a bigger area, with higher stakes. “I feel close to the fight for the soul of our nation,” she says.

Bynum plans to serve out her Oregon House term, which ends in January 2025.

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