Oregon could have its first member of Congress from the LGBTQ+ community with lesbian Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s victory over incumbent Kurt Schrader in the state’s Fifth Congressional District.
The Associated Press and the state’s largest newspaper, The Oregonian, both called the race for McLeod-Skinner Friday. Problems with counting ballots had delayed the call in the May 17 primary.
McLeod-Skinner will face Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in November’s general election. The Fifth District leans Democratic and extends from Oregon’s central coast through the southern suburbs of Portland and then farther inland. McLeod-Skinner had run unsuccessfully for the U.S. House from the Second District in 2018; Oregon’s congressional districts have since been redrawn.
She challenged Schrader from the left, portraying him as too moderate and too close to big-money interests such as pharmaceutical companies. He was endorsed by President Joe Biden, even though he had opposed some aspects of Biden’s legislative program. McLeod-Skinner was endorsed by some other high-profile Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Schrader, a farmer and veterinarian, is in his seventh term in the House. McLeod-Skinner is a lawyer, small-business owner, and emergency response coordinator. She has worked in refugee resettlement and helped repair schools and hospitals in Bosnia and Kosovo, has served on several local boards, and was interim city manager of the Oregon town of Talent.
“This is a David and Goliath moment,” Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, of which McLeod-Skinner is a member, told The Washington Post. “This win proves that voters are hungry for leaders who will fight for working families, not billionaires and Big Pharma.”
McLeod tweeted that her victory is for all Oregonians.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund had endorsed McLeod-Skinner and hailed her win. “For years, Jamie has been committed to addressing the climate crisis and its impacts, helping working families, safeguarding abortion and access to reproductive health care and defending our democracy,” Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said in a press release. “Her success is a direct result of her steadfast commitment to community organizing and grassroots advocacy. Oregonians are clearly enthusiastic about her vision for our future. For far too long, Oregon’s LGBTQ community has not had a voice in Congress. By shattering this lavender ceiling, Jamie is one step closer to changing that. With anti-LGBTQ attacks spreading like wildfire and lawmakers in Congress bent on outlawing abortion and reproductive health care, her election could not come at a more critical moment in our nation’s history.”
LPAC, which is dedicated to electing women from the LGBTQ+ community to office, also had endorsed McLeod-Skinner and issued a statement upon her victory. “LPAC supports good candidates who run good campaigns. Jamie ran a competitive race challenging a longtime member of Congress,” said LPAC Executive Director Lisa Turner. “After spending time talking to Jamie McLeod-Skinner and her team we saw that she was the right candidate for Central Oregon, and that institutional support and investments could help her win this race. We are proud to be the first LGBTQ organization to endorse and contribute to her campaign. We look forward to continuing to work with Jamie as she takes the fight to the general election in November.”
She is not the only lesbian poised to make history in Oregon. Tina Kotek won the Democratic primary for governor, and if she wins in November, she would be the state’s first lesbian chief executive.