Oregon Primary Recap: Discount Joe Manchin Rep. Kurt Schrader Might Just Lose His House Seat

Oregon Primary Recap: Discount Joe Manchin Rep. Kurt Schrader Might Just Lose His House Seat

Here’s some nice times from Tuesday's Oregon primary race.

Former state House Speaker Tina Kotek won the Democratic nomination for governor, carrying 57 percent of the vote in a crowded field. Kotek advanced many ambitious progressive policies as speaker, and would make a great governor of my adopted state. However, she’ll have to fend off former House Republican Leader Christine Drazanand former Democratic state senator Betsy Johnson, who’s running as an independent.

Johnson staked her position in the mushy middle last night, describing Kotek as “more Kate Brown than Kate Brown.” Let’s pretend that’s a dig against her policies and not a sly reference to her sexuality: Kotek is a lesbian, and Brown is bisexual. Johnson also criticized Drazan for her anti-abortion position and declared she can help Oregon “get our mojo back.” Dear God. Third-party candidacies seem to always benefit Republicans, but let’s hope Oregon can continue its 35-year-streak of no GOP governors.

The news from Oregon got even better, as it looks like progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner is close to ousting incumbent Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, who’s known around these parts as the Joe Manchin of Oregon. We can barely tolerate a Joe Manchin from West Virginia. They're still counting ballots in Clackamas County but McLeod-Skinner is currently ahead 61 to 38 percent. Oh, let this become reality!

McLeod-Skinner would be Oregon’s first openly gay member of the House. She’s also a true liberal who doesn’t suck. Schrader reportedly called Donald Trump’s second annual impeachment a “lynching.” He was also one of two Democrats to vote against increasing taxpayer stimulus checks from $600 to $2000.

The Democratic parties of Clackamas, Marion, Linn and Deschutes counties all supported McLeod-Skinner over Schrader, and county parties don’t normally endorse primary candidates. They literally had to change their rules to show Schrader the back of their hands.

Rep. Katie Porter’s PAC reportedly donated $5,000 — the legal maximum — to McLeod-Skinner. Schrader doesn’t take the rejection of his peers personally, though. Instead, he worn their approbation as a badge of honor, which is a standard M.O. for a person no one likes.

“The parties generally, or at least the county party folks, represent the more left-wing activist points of view,” Schrader said. “I don’t think that at the end of the day they’re in lock step with mainstream Democrats, who I think want someone that is effective and can get the job done and represent them. Those folks are more ideologically motivated. I want to represent the people.”

Schrader echoed these remarks during his primary debate with McLeod-Skinner. He said, "People want someone to represent the district, not an ideology. We need to stop the bickering and get work done, like I’ve done.”

So, how has Schrader “represented the people” of Oregon and gotten work done? Well, he’s actively obstructed President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, as if he lives in West Virginia and not a state where Biden curb-stomped Donald Trump by 16 points. Biden carried Schrader’s Fifth District by 10 points.

Nonetheless, Schrader led a group of conservative House Democrats who helped kill Biden’s Build Back Better bill. This group demanded Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi decouple Build Back Better from the Mitch McConnell-approved bipartisan infrastructure bill. True bipartisanship is sweetest when you screw other Democrats, including the president.

Progressive Democrats warned leadership that separating the bills would put Build Back Better on life support. They were dismissed as cynics who didn’t play well with others. Unfortunately, they were proven right when Senator Joe Manchin pulled the plug a week before Christmas.

The Intercept obtained audio of Schrader boasting about his evil scheme to donors last year:

“This is a big deal. I just wanna thank you guys so much for your support, having our backs, being a big part of why we are, where we are today,” Schrader said, according to audio of the gathering obtained by The Intercept.

“Let’s deal with the reconciliation later. Let’s pass that infrastructure package right now, and don’t get your hopes up that we’re going to spend trillions more of our kids’ and grandkids’ money that we don’t really have at this point.”

A common dishonest right-wing talking point suggested Build Back Better was just Biden setting a large mountain of money on fire like the Joker in The Dark Knight. AsJen Psaki explained in December, Build Back Better would have "virtually no impact on inflation in the short term, and, in the long run, the policies it includes will ease inflationary pressures.”

New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns detail in their somewhat aptly named book, This Will Not Pass, that during the height of confrontation over the infrastructure bill, Schrader called Speaker Pelosi “truly a terrible person.”

Unbelievably, Biden actually endorsed this clown for another term. The country club politics have got to go. Worse, Biden endorsed a guy who screwed him, and he still lost. You know it’s a bad year for the president when he can’t even help his enemies win elections.

[The Intercept / Statesman Journal]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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