Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeats incumbent Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District

Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated incumbent Kurt Schrader in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District on May 17, 2022.

Schrader is the fifth incumbent to lose re-election to the U.S. House this year. Representatives Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), and David McKinley (R-W.Va.) also lost re-election.

Schrader’s loss is also the first time a congressional incumbent from Oregon has been defeated in a primary since 1980 when 3rd district incumbent Bob Duncan (D) lost to Ron Wyden (D). Wyden was later elected to the U.S. Senate.

Schrader was first elected to represent the 5th district in 2008 and had won re-election every cycle since then, but the district’s boundaries changed this year as a result of redistricting. According to data from Daily Kos, 47% of the population in the new 5th district came from the old 5th district.

McLeod-Skinner criticized Schrader for his legislative record, saying he often voted against Democratic priorities. “He’s fought negotiating lower drug prices, raising the federal minimum wage, and forgiving debt for college loans,” McLeod-Skinner said. “When he does vote with Democrats, it is often after working to water-down the original ideas.”

Schrader said his voting record reflected the partisan composition of the district. “I represent the people in my district and the state of Oregon, which frankly is not a blue state. It’s blue on the surface,” he said. “There are a lot of folks that are Republicans or Independents, and I’d like to think I represent the state very well this way.” Schrader later said, “My record shows I have voted with President Biden 96 percent of the time.” 

At the time of the primary, McLeod-Skinner was an attorney and a board member of the Jefferson County Education Service District. She said, “[D.C. is not] addressing the crises we’re seeing around affordable housing, around health care, around childcare, around environmental issues. And that’s the work I want to do in Congress.” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the Sierra Club, and the Working Families Party of Oregon endorsed McLeod-Skinner, as did the local Democratic parties in Deschutes, Linn, Clackamas, and Marion counties. The four counties contain over 90% of the voters in the district.

Schrader, a farmer and former veterinarian, previously served in the Oregon House of Representatives and the Oregon Senate. Schrader highlighted his voting record, in particular when it came to bipartisan legislation. He said, “I founded the bipartisan ‘Problem Solvers Caucus,’ which is part of the reason I have been so effective at passing critical Covid-19 relief legislation and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and working on legislation to address important issues including reducing prescription drug costs.” President Joe Biden (D), the American Federation of Government Employees, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed Schrader.

At the time of the primary, two independent election forecasters considered the general election as Lean Democratic, and one considered it a Toss-up. According to FiveThirtyEight, the district had a D+3 partisan lean.