We Asked the Three Leading Candidates to Succeed U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer About Gaza

The next person to represent Portland in Congress will be the winner of the 3rd Congressional District primary in May.

Advice for Joe Biden on Gaza Maxine Dexter (Mick Hangland-Skill), Susheela Jayapal (Wesley Lapointe), Eddy Morales (City of Gresham)

In the May 21 primary, three top Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination in Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District. Given that Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 3 to 1 in the 3rd, the nominee will almost certainly win the general election to succeed U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who is retiring after 14 terms in Congress.

The three leading candidates are state Rep. Maxine Dexter (D-Portland), former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales.

As voters decide which of the trio to send to Washington, D.C., one of the most divisive issues on Capitol Hill—and in Portland—is Israel’s response to Hamas’ attacks on Oct 7, 2023. The attacks caused friction for Jayapal when she served on the county board because she appeared less supportive of Israel than her colleagues. Since then, Israel’s brutal response has divided communities and Democrats in particular. How President Joe Biden’s handles the crisis could play a key role in his bid for reelection—and Democrats’ chances of taking the House.

We asked each candidate the same question: If you were currently representing the 3rd Congressional District, what advice would you offer President Biden on the war in Gaza?

Here are their responses:

Maxine Dexter: “Mr. President, as a physician and mother, caring for and keeping people healthy is my life’s work. My heart breaks for innocent families who, first in Israel, and then persistently in Gaza, find themselves in grave danger. As elected officials, we are committed to protecting the lives of all people, whether at home or abroad. I implore you to do everything in your power to urgently facilitate an end to the fighting and achieve long-term peace in Israel and Gaza through a negotiated cease-fire that ensures: (1) an end to the violence, (2) the immediate release of the 134 remaining hostages, and (3) the immediate delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid, including food, water and medicine into Gaza. Your continued leadership is necessary for forging a lasting peace, including a path toward an eventual two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side, with security and peace.”

Susheela Jayapal: “I’m the only candidate in this race who has called for a sustainable, humanitarian cease-fire, and I would strongly advise President Biden to use all the leverage available to him to achieve such a cease-fire. That leverage includes an end to unconditional military, financial or diplomatic aid. I condemn terrorism like the attacks of Oct. 7, but the Netanyahu government’s choices—bombing civilians in schools, refugee camps, evacuation routes, and hospitals and now aid workers; denying food, water, medical care—conflict with international law and created a horrific humanitarian catastrophe with an estimated 30,000 dead, the majority of whom were women and children. Continued escalation is not going to lead to peace and security for anyone, Israeli or Palestinian. The violence must stop; humanitarian aid must be allowed in; and the U.S. must throw its weight behind a political solution that allows self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Eddy Morales: “It is devastating what is happening to people in Israel and Gaza. I’ve been to Israel and Palestine and met with leaders from both. Today, as people in Palestine and Israel mourn and seek safety, we must demand that our leaders support immediate steps to help those in danger: continuing to bring hostages home, preventing and stopping massive civilian deaths, and restoring food, water and electricity in Gaza. We must also demand long-term solutions for people in the whole region, whether they’re Palestinian or Israeli, and support those who simply want to live their lives and raise their families in peace. It’s clear, we need a diplomatic solution. Israel has a right to defend itself, Hamas should not be in power, and the hostages need to be returned.”

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