PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Jamie McLeod-Skinner defeated incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader in the May primary, it set up a wide-open race in Oregon’s redrawn 5th Congressional District.
McLeod-Skinner, a small business owner, engineer and attorney, will face Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the November election. Chavez-DeRemer is a former mayor of Happy Valley and a small business owner in health care.
The 5th District was completely redrawn after the 2020 census. It’s 49.3% male and 50.7% female with a median household income of $67,908. There is a 90% high school graduation rate in the district, a 32% college graduation rate.
Chavez-DeRemer and McLeod-Skinner
Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Lori Chavez-DeRemer each appeared for extended interviews multiple times by KOIN 6 News’ anchor Ken Boddie for “Eye on Northwest Politics.” They each answered similar but not the same questions from those episodes and their answers to those questions are below.
Why they’re running for Oregon’s 5th District
Chavez-DeRemer: “People definitely are looking for common sense. For sure, polar opposites (with Jamie McLeod-Skinner) but the issues don’t change. It’s how we’re going to approach those issues that I think will be a benefit. Certainly raising my kids through the education system here, being invested 22 years in Congressional District 5, developing a business over 18 years, serving the greater Portland area, actually as far as Clackamas and over to Bend where we have some offices, and then being on the ground as a mayor. Being elected for 8 years to serve as the fastest city growing in Oregon, except for Bend now, that’s happening. But the hands-on approach to what are the citizens wanting, what the voters look for, where are the common sense approaches to a more vibrant community and a whole community. So I think with all those together the voters will look to have my back and support me in the general election in November.”
McLeod-Skinner: “I’m a small business owner, I’m an emergency recovery coordinator, I was raised by a single mom until my dad came into our life at the age of 10. And those who know Brad Paisley music know it’s kind of like the song ‘Didn’t Have To Be,’ that’s the kind of guy he is. I paid my way through college and law school. I know how hard it is to make ends meet. We won because I just focused on fighting for the needs of Oregonians. Across the political spectrum, we’re all concerned about putting food on the table, a roof over our head, opportunities for our kids and health care for when we’re sick, and we don’t want our homes to burn down. There’s a real sense that DC has lost touch, is not hearing the needs we have here on the ground and that Congress has stopped listening. And so the focus and the victory was really about those issues and the rest of it just got to be a lot of noise.”
Chavez-DeRemer: “I think we can call (the Inflation Reduction Act) whatever we want but I’m not sure it’s reducing inflation. And you can even tell that on the ground as we go throughout this campaign, you know we’re hearing it every day the stories about gas prices being up over $100 a tankful and to get to work. I talked to a young woman the other day who was trying to decide to fill up her full tank. She said she was trying to reduce her meals, choices, you know, one or two meals a day. I thought, ‘We’ve got a real problem on our hands.’ So while we can put labels on just about anything I’m not sure that people are feeling, that the inflation is going down. A 40-year high. It’s hard to take our eyes off of that. … “Well, what I’d like to see is we can’t deny that when we spend trillions of dollars and put that into the economy that that’s going to lower the cost of goods and services. And again, coming off of COVID and the supply chain it’s just one more nail into the coffin, it seems like. Businesses are trying to survive, families trying to put food on their table, schools are back in, parents are shopping for their kids, back to school clothes, everything is up and we’re noticing it every single day. I’d like to incentivize businesses to get back on the ground and open up their doors and have more of a free market rather than having trillions of government spending that is going to consistently raise prices on goods and services to hard-working families.”
McLeod-Skinner: “(The Inflation Reduction Act is) really important first steps. Let’s just talk about prescription drug prices for a moment. Oregonians are really struggling. The cost of prescription drugs is going up, wages are not going up and prescription drug prices are a huge issue. The act was a good first step. It looked at insulin and took some initial steps on lowering the cost of insulin but that’s just for folks who have access to Medicare. We need to lower all prescription drug prices. As a small business owner I get it. You need to cover costs, you need to make a profit. That’s fair. But price gouging is not fair. What we’re seeing now around prescription drug prices and why it is so critically important for everyday Oregonians to bring those prices down. And on environmental issues, I’ve literally led wildfire recovery. Our homes are literally burning down here in Oregon, our family farms are going under and so these issues are critically important. There’s more steps we can be doing to make sure we have the support on the ground to local communities. But the Inflation Reduction Act was a very good first step. … Working Oregonians are struggling. We mentioned high cost of living and wages not keeping up. When I was a kid my mom had to work 3 jobs to put a roof over our head and food on our table. And when costs went up, the food budget went down. That’s the reality of so many Oregonians right now. We need both short-term and long-term solutions. One short-term solution, we were just talking about it, bringing down health care costs. Making sure corporations are not price gouging. And actually, I don’t take corporate PAC money for that reason. I’m accountable to Oregonians and not to corporations. In the long term, we need to build stuff here again. We need to create good-paying manufacturing jobs. We need to build a 21st Century infrastructure that includes clean energy which will also help our environment. We need to increase the federal minimum wage. And also we need to make investments in things like affordable housing, in education and child care. These are the barriers that working families are facing right now and those are about investing. I’ve always said I don’t believe in spending public money, I believe in investing it. These are the investments we need to make for working families, in our environment and in protecting our democracy.”
Gun laws and gun reform
Chavez-DeRemer: “Public safety is the #1 thing any community looks for. You know, fully funding the police has always been something I focused on as a mayor, making sure they had the tools needed to enforce the laws that were already in place. This issue with Uvalde and what has happened across our nation is, again, as a mom, a daughter who is a teacher, you know it’s unrecognizable what is happening on the streets of not only Texas but across the nation and in Portland as well. You know Portland, Oregon has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation — you know, universal background checks — we have to enforce the laws that we have. … “Again, following the laws that are already in place. I think several laws were broken in (Uvalde) Texas. And again, what laws will stop the mental health crisis and the evil that can come from this criminality. … I think it’s a culture crisis that we’re experiencing, a culture war, and we need to make sure we protect our children and our schools. And I think there’s some front-line things that we can definitely do by securing the perimeter, making sure kids are safe when they go to school and making sure we can safely pick up our kids at the end of the day and bring them home.”
McLeod-Skinner: “I do (support those efforts for gun reform). And this is another area where we’re seeing some of the DC insiders and extremist politicians similar to comments made by my opponent are really out of touch with the vast majority of where Oregonians are at. This is not a conversation about gun owners or non-gun owners. I mean, my dad hunted to put food on the table. I live in rural Oregon where a lot of folks own guns. This is about gun safety and responsible gun ownership. The overwhelming number of Americans, including gun owners, understand that a felon shouldn’t be able to buy a gun in a parking lot without a background check or an 18-year-old or someone suffering from a mental illness should not be able to buy a weapon of war. Our children, our teachers — and I’m the daughter of a retired teacher — should not be murdered in our schools. Our neighbors should not be shot down in churches and grocery stores. So the argument that’s being made against simple gun safety is really shocking. It’s being driven by special interests and that’s just not where most Oregonians or most Americans are at. … But there are laws in the books and that’s part of it. But we also don’t have sufficient protections in place to ensure the safety of our kids in schools, parishioners in church and folks in grocery stores. And those are steps that we could be taking and should be taking.” … “We just had a horrific shooting, a mass shooting, in central Oregon. That could have been another Uvalde or another Buffalo except for a grocery store clerk stepping up, losing his own life in protecting others. This is a serious issue and we have to take serious steps to move forward on the issue. There are really straightforward, common sense gun safety issues that the vast majority — even responsible gun owners — agree on. Those are the steps we need to take. And again, taking this issue seriously. Frankly, after the horrific shooting in Bend while we were providing support for the community and helping people grieve, feel safe about going back to school again and all the things parents were worried about, my opponent was off doing a publicity stunt at the border. We need serious leaders who are focused on bringing people together to solve our problems.”
Chavez-DeRemer: “In Oregon, codified in law is the protection of abortion services. I will tell you the extreme view on Oregon’s law of abortion on demand, abortion to the very last day, even the conversation about partial-birth abortions paid for by taxpayer dollars, is an extreme, it’s out of the mainstream that most Oregonians want. And now we have this extra issue. So codified in law in Oregon is a protection that’s protected, but taxpayer dollars paying for those extreme abortions at the very last day I think is a real issue.”
McLeod-Skinner: “There is no clearer difference in this race than this issue. I fundamentally believe that the decision about a child is between a woman and her doctor and God. And that government has no business telling us what to do with our bodies or when to start our families. My opponent would ban abortion even before a woman knows she’s pregnant. That’s an extremist view. And politicians have no place in the doctor’s office. So, yes, we need to look at reproductive health care that includes birth control and access to abortions and pre- and post-natal care and child care as well. So often people talk about this issue and forget about the support needed both prior, during and after.”
Chavez-DeRemer: “There were questions about election integrity that we’ve heard throughout the nation from the 2020 race and so forth, but really it’s about audits. These are important issues. People expect free and fair elections. It’s unfortunate that this (primary vote counting delays) happened in Clackamas County. Looks like they’re wrapping it up in the next few weeks to certify that election, but I think a continuous approach to those audits and what our processes look like so that people feel like their votes are counted and that they’re secure and they’re meaningful. So certainly we need to keep an eye on it and I think they’ll get it straightened out. But it certainly raises more and more questions about mail-in ballots and do people’s votes really matter. And I want them to matter because it’s the most important thing we have for the democratic process. So make sure to keep an eye on these things.”
McLeod-Skinner: “We all want elections to reflect the will of the voters and we want the results in a timely manner. This is really an opportunity to thank all the hard-working staff and volunteers in Clackamas County. We’ve got clear results now but we also just want to make sure there is equal access. Maintaining trust in our elections is important and we have a phenomenal record here in Oregon with our vote-by-mail process and with the hard work of so many clerks across our state and so many election staff and volunteers. So, much respect to them and appreciation to them. Oregon is really a model on this. There was a shortcoming and it was because we have such a high standard and expectation for our elections that we wanted to call out where Clackamas County clerk had fallen short.”
Drug decriminalization/Measure 110
Chavez-DeRemer: “There’s been a lot of conversation. The issue is the transparency. You cannot deny what we see on the streets every single day and it’s coming out to every community. You know, to see our fellow Americans die on the streets is not something I imagine Oregonians or Americans want to see. These are community members that we are supposed to help. And Measure 110 decriminalizes those hard drugs. But what we’re seeing is, you know, the criminal activity that goes along with it. And there’s a few ways to address it. While we cannot have no transparency in releasing the funds to help these people, which I believe just happened 2 years after this measure was passed, I think that was faulty on that one-party rule. The Democratic rule is not helping the state. We have to make sure we close that southern border at the federal level, for security reasons. We’re seeing the fentanyl crisis happen in our streets and Oregon now is ripe for that market to kill our kids. And again, as a mayor, as a mom, as a business owner this is doing no good for anybody. So, the catch-and-release, the bail reform, all of that needs to be addressed and I’ll tell you I think Oregonians have had enough and they want to see change despite what party they’re from.”
Chavez-DeRemer: “Well, the values of being a conservative don’t always just resonate with one party. We’re thinking about faith, family, freedom, goods and services, small business owners. You know as a mayor for a very long time, you know, my goal was to keep public safe, have a vibrant economy, support our small businesses, make sure our kids have a good opportunity in education, and I think someone like Elise Stefanik, who’s a mom, who is serving New York, is recognizing that these values go across every state and are looking for a woman’s voice. So she endorsed early on in this campaign recognizing that we can elect more women. We make decisions in our homes about our family values as I mentioned, make decisions in our homes about, you know, costs of goods to our families, keeping them safe. You know, a mother will pay attention to her kids’ safety. And that’s what we need to fight and focus on. So these endorsements came easy for them to recognize that we can get this done with those conservative values and get back on track in this country.”
McLeod-Skinner: “Getting great support from everyone across the board. Yes, from Democrats but also from independents — I’m the nominee for the Independent Party of Oregon and the Working Families party and from Republicans, as well. The Gladstone mayor, who is Republican, is endorsing me. I was just in Santiam Canyon talking about wildfires, an area of expertise for me, got support from Republican elected officials there and from the former police chief from the City of Bend. So we’ve got a broad swath of support.”
Too far left? Too Trumpy?
Chavez-DeRemer: “When you see everything just through an extreme lens I will tell you this: I’ve pretty much been in touch my entire life, 54 years, my great-grandmother didn’t speak English, my grandmother had a 6th-grade education, my father was a Teamster, union worker who worked hard, my mom just retired at 76 years old, I will tell you my husband and I met in high school, we worked our way through the American dream, raised 2 beautiful girls and I would say I’ve touched everything along the way and can really be on the ground and talking to everyday Oregonians and everyday Americans. We have to have hope in this country. If we’re going to realize the American dream, we don’t want to push people to that and then knock them off. So, I call that nonsense. I don’t answer to it because I’ve worked hard and I’m not going to apologize for that. And I want to make sure I can continue the work I’ve done as mayor and now as a congresswoman to elevate small businesses, elevate every community, that the American dream can be reached and I want to be the leader of that.”
McLeod-Skinner: “I tell them to do their homework. So again, my track record is really clear working across the divide. The fact that I’ve gone across the divide to get things done. This is the bottom line: Regardless of party affiliation we all want to put a roof over our head and food on our table. We want opportunity for our kids, health care for our families when they’re sick. We want safe communities. We don’t want our homes to burn down. We don’t want our family farms going under. I’ve worked across the divide on all those issues. My opponent hasn’t. My opponent actually supported Trump’s huge tax cuts for the wealthy, saying it, quote, would be good for some of us. I mean, some of those moves were great for multimillionaires like her, but they put such a huge burden on the middle class. We need to be rebuilding the middle class and showing up for working families. And, one other thing, too, the attacks my opponent is making on the government helping out during the pandemic, we’ve just come out of a really tough time. Helping out makes sense. But it’s incredibly hypocritical because her family business got over a million bucks in pandemic aid they didn’t have to pay back while she was building a multi-million dollar home, second, third home, in Arizona. We need leaders who are serious about getting the job done, serious about solutions and focusing on Oregonians.”
Why voters will elect them
Chavez-DeRemer: “I don’t think you should make an assumption that it’s going to flip (to GOP control) but the backdrop of the economy, inflation, the crime on our streets, you know those things will bubble up. And that’s why people want to see change. And with Oregon’s 5th District, in an even district I think they’re going to weigh heavily. Whether Republicans stick with Republicans and Democrats stick with Democrats there is definitely the non-affiliated and the independents who are going to weigh in on this race. But it’s the issues that make it bubble up some more and want some conservative values. And they want some change. And I think that’s what is going to sway the seat and Republicans across the nation will pick up more seats because of the frustration of the Biden policies that have happened. You know with 30% approval rating of this administration people are wanting change and they deserve that change.”
McLeod-Skinner: “They’re right about my opponent — she is an extremist. In terms of her views with regard to reproductive rights, a lot of the stances she’s taken, her equivocation about January 6, the fact that she doesn’t acknowledge Biden won the election. I mean, being an election denier is a very extremist view. The bottom line is I won the primary because of my support from people in Central Oregon who know my work. When I show up I work across the divide, bring people together to get things done. Oregonians are hungry right now for someone who understands the kitchen table issues. I’m a working family myself up against a multi-millionaire who doesn’t really understand those kitchen table issues. But also my experience of working across the divide to actually get things done is what Oregonians are looking for right now. …
“What I’ve heard in the most conservative parts of our state, from Democrats, Republicans and independents is that the bottom line — and this is what I’ve worked on for years as part of my career — we want to be able to put a roof over our head, food on our table, we want opportunities for our kids, we want health care for our families when we’re sick, don’t want our homes to burn down and we don’t want to lose our family farms to drought. You can call it what you want, but sign me up. Because those are the things I’ve worked on for years. That’s why voters elected me in the primary and that’s what the folks I’m talking to across the political spectrum, those are the issues they’re talking about. People are concerned about how we can pay for gas, how we can address inflation. These are the realities that everyday Oregonians are facing and that’s what folks want. I think there is going to be, for folks who play politics, they will rightfully see some trouble in the general election. But folks like myself, we’re just interested in addressing the needs of Oregonians. I think we will be fine. We just have to make that connection and have those conversations with Oregonians. And we don’t need anyone who is going to be representing extremist views, like my opponent. You know I think accountability to Oregonians is the bottom line. That’s why I’ve never taken corporate PAC money, I don’t take a cent from corporations because I believe in representing Oregonians and fighting for us and fighting against the special interests of corporations.”