State Rep. Maxine Dexter Announces Her Candidacy for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District

The physician and lawmaker wants to succeed U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer in the district that covers much of Portland.

Dr. Maxine Dexter HOUSE DISTRICT 33 Dr. Maxine Dexter

State Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland) announced today she will seek the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District next year.

“As a mom, physician, and legislator I’ve dedicated my life to caregiving, solving urgent problems, and creating lasting change—in the hospital and clinic, in our public schools, and in the state House,” Dexter said. “Now I’m running for Congress because I’m ready to create the same transformational, lifesaving change for Oregonians on a scale that is greater than ever before in my life and work.”

The seat representing an overwhelmingly Democratic district that includes much of Portland will be up for grabs next year for the first time since 1996 because incumbent U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is not running for reelection.

Dexter grew up in Washington and is the first person in her family to attend college. After graduating from the University of Washington and its medical school, she has worked as a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Kaiser Permanente. Dexter entered the Legislature in 2020, receiving an appointment to replace Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) who died just before Dexter won the primary to succeed him. In her time in Salem, her medical background made her a resource for voters and her colleagues as the state experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

In the 2023 session, Dexter passed an aggressive opioid harm reduction bill. She also chaired the House Committee on Housing and Homelessness, which put her in the thick of Oregon’s efforts to address its most challenging issues. She also served on the House Committee on Behavioral Health and Health Care and the House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government and Veterans.

Dexter, who announced her candidacy on her 51st birthday, joins two other candidates in the race who have held elected office: former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales.

Dexter’s legislative district includes parts of downtown and North and Northwest Portland. Her home in Northwest Portland is actually slightly outside the district she hopes to represent, according to the electoral map. The U.S. Constitution allows that, requiring only that candidates live in the state they wish to represent. U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.) lived slightly outside Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District when she won that seat in 2022. In 2016, now-U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Susheela Jayapal’s sister, won her Seattle seat while living just outside her district.

Dexter says her residence should not be an issue in the campaign.

“My heart and community are in Oregon’s 3rd District. It’s where I raised my kids when they were younger—it’s where they danced, played little league and sang in choir. It’s where a majority of my patients live. It contains part of my legislative district. I have fought for the people of the 3rd District as a concerned parent, physician and legislator. Next, I will fight for them as a member of Congress.”

She adds that school renovation complications led to a temporary move to the westside.

“When my daughter was going to start high school at Grant, our local school, it was going to be under construction for multiple years,” Dexter says. “My family had to make a hard decision—like many families. Due to the school relocation and our daughter’s after-school activities, my husband and I—as two full-time working parents—could not make those logistics work. We moved so my daughter could attend a school that was within biking distance of our home. This year, my son is a senior in high school, and I’m looking forward to moving back to the place I call home—the 3rd District—following his graduation.”

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