PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer has won the open U.S. House seat in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, flipping the district for the GOP in a hard-fought contest that drew millions in outside money to the state.
Chavez-DeRemer’s victory makes her the first Latina congresswoman from Oregon, a distinction also sought by 6th District Democratic candidate Andrea Salinas. That race remained too early to call. As of Sunday, Salinas held a 4400 vote lead with 81% of the vote counted.
With 93% of the vote counted, Chavez-DeRemer led by 7199 votes. By percentage, she led 51.14% to 48.86%.
Chavez-DeRemer claimed victory on Friday, well before the Associated Press called the race with the weekend vote totals. While her campaign did not respond to a KOIN 6 News request for comment on Sunday, she recently told Ken Boddie on Eye on Northwest Politics why she felt the odds were in her favor.
“Whether Republicans stick with Republicans and Democrats stick with Democrats, there’s definitely the nonaffiliated and the independents who are going to weigh in on this race, but it’s the issues that make it bubble up and want some more conservative values, and they want some change,” she said then. “And I think that that is what’s going to sway this seat.”
Congratulations and concession
Immediately after the race was called, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer congratulated her.
“Congratulations to Lori Chavez-DeRemer on a dominating victory and becoming the first Latina to represent Oregon in Congress. Lori ran an excellent campaign focused on the issues that matter most to Oregon families, and I know she will do a fantastic job in Washington,” Emmer said in a statement.
McLeod-Skinner conceded graciously.
“While there are still votes to count, it appears that the ultimate result will not be the outcome we worked so hard to achieve. I spoke with Lori to congratulate her and wish her well in representing Oregon’s Fifth District during these challenging times. Our success as Oregonians is dependent on the success of our elected leaders, and I encourage all of us to help our elected leaders bridge our divides to address our common challenges,” she said in a statement.
McLeod-Skinner also thanked her supporters and her entire campaign team.
5th District was redrawn after 2020
The district was previously held for seven terms by moderate Democrat Rep. Kurt Schrader and was targeted by the GOP, which saw the 5th as vulnerable after the long-time incumbent’s primary defeat by progressive candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
The 5th was significantly redrawn following the 2020 U.S. Census to include parts of more conservative central Oregon, and trended slightly less blue this election. Democrats still hold a slight advantage in voter registration, but both campaigns focused on the roughly one-third of unaffiliated voters in the district.
Chavez-DeRemer, a small business owner and former mayor of the Portland suburb of Happy Valley, built her campaign around concerns over homelessness and rising crime in Portland, which neighbors some of the district’s suburban communities.
McLeod-Skinner, an attorney and regional emergency coordinator, previously ran unsuccessfully for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District in 2018. She sought to highlight Chavez-DeRemer’s shifting stance on abortion and painted her as a far-right candidate who was too conservative for the district.
The super PAC linked to House Republicans, the Congressional Leadership Fund, spent more than $2.7 million on several ads in the district, which stretches from Portland’s affluent southern suburbs to the central high desert city of Bend.
Elsewhere in Oregon’s U.S. House races, Democrats maintained control of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Districts, and the GOP kept the sprawling 2nd, which encompasses nearly two-thirds of the state.
KOIN 6 News reporter Joelle Jones contributed to this report.