Jamie McLeod-Skinner Will Challenge U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader From the Left

She was endorsed by Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, who ran unsuccessfully against Schrader in the 2020 Democratic primary.

mcleod Jamie McLeod-Skinner. (Courtesy of the campaign) (Jan Raether)

Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an elected Jefferson County Education Service District board member who ran for Oregon secretary of state in 2020, announced this morning she will challenge U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) for his congressional seat in the 2022 Democratic primary.

McLeod-Skinner’s announcement confirms that Schrader, who has served in Congress since 2009, will face a primary challenge from his left. He has repeatedly proved a centrist obstacle to key elements of President Joe Biden’s spending agenda, including the lowering of prescription drug costs.

McLeod-Skinner pointed to concerns about the climate, college debt, and affordable housing as issues that she would fight to improve.

“Oregon’s working families are proud,” she said. “We don’t expect the government to do everything, but we’d like a little help during the tough times.”

The announcement came with a joint statement from Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, who ran unsuccessfully against Schrader in the 2020 Democratic primary. Though he originally intended to challenge Schrader again, Gamba said, he ultimately decided against a run—in order to give a progressive candidate their best chance without splitting the vote. He then endorsed McLeod-Skinner.

“I told [Jaime] early on, I don’t personally care if it’s you or if it’s me, but one of us has to beat Schrader,” said Gamba. “If it’s you that has the best shot, I will back you to the hilt.”

The boundaries of Schrader’s district were reshaped by the Legislature this fall. While the new boundaries are still subject to court challenges, the 5th Congressional District is shifting east—still containing parts of the Willamette Valley, but replacing Salem with Bend as the primary population center.

That means both Schrader and McLeod-Skinner will have to introduce themselves to a new set of voters.

McLeod-Skinner ended her announcement with a promise to Oregonians.

“To my fellow Oregonians in the new 5th Congressional District, I offer you my values and my hands-on experience,” she said, “in addressing the challenges of our time to lead us toward the promise of our future.”

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