© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Janelle Bynum defeats Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Democratic race for Oregon’s 5th Congressional district

(Left to right) Democratic Party primary candidates for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, Janelle Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, in undated photos provided by the campaigns.
Photos courtesy of the campaigns / OPB

(Left to right) Democratic Party primary candidates for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, Janelle Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, in undated photos provided by the campaigns.

If the results hold, Bynum will face Republican U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, in one of the nation’s most closely watched elections, a race that could decide which party controls Congress.

Janelle Bynum, a Happy Valley Democrat who has served four terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, has won the Democratic race for the state’s 5th Congressional District, according to unofficial results.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Bynum held a sizable lead over Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an attorney from Terrebonne.

At the Portland Cider Company in Clackamas, Bynum walked out to a room full of supporters who cheered and chanted her name. She clapped her hands while standing behind a podium, beaming, and declared herself the Democratic nominee.

“There’s so much at stake this November and the path to flipping the house,” she said. “The majority runs right through our district. I’m ready to be your champion.”

Bynum will face Republican U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in what should be one of the nation’s most closely watched races.

Bynum, who would be Oregon’s first Black members of Congress if she can oust the incumbent in November, received backing from much of Oregon’s Democratic political establishment, including the state’s governor, attorney general, treasurer, three Oregonian members of Congress and more than 30 state lawmakers.

She also outraised McLeod-Skinner, with more than $1.1 million in total contributions compared to McLeod-Skinner’s more than $700,000.

Bynum spent much of her campaign touting the fact that she beat Chavez-DeRemer twice in elections for the Oregon House of Representatives, and she says she’ll do it again.

In her speech, Bynum sought to portray Chavez-DeRemer as a far-right Republican, noting she endorsed Donald Trump.

“She’s basked in the limelight of her MAGA friends in (Washington D.C.), and has barely even visited the district,” she said. “But I believe that our families deserve better and that our communities deserve better and that our country deserves better.”

In Congress, Bynum says she would rally behind the Democratic Party’s efforts to curb gun violence, improve housing affordability, codify abortion rights and act on climate change.

“She has a proven track record of working and getting things done in a bipartisan manner,” said Steph Newton Azorr, a city councilor in Albany.

McLeod-Skinner held an election party in downtown Bend where she congratulated Bynum while saying she was proud of her campaign: “It’s now time for Democrats to unite behind our shared goal of defeating the MAGA extremist agenda and winning this seat in November so we can take back the House of Representatives.”

McLeod-Skinner has won Democratic nominations for U.S. House seats twice but lost in the general election.

“Public service is a tremendous privilege,” she said Tuesday night. “I have been honored to serve the people of Oregon in several capacities. I look forward to continuing my life of public service.”

Bynum’s supporters spoke with confidence about her skills as a legislator and said they believed they could trust her to deliver on her promises if she’s elected to Congress.

“Representation matters,” said former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who serves as the chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus. “ ... She represents women. She represents people of color. She represents mothers. She represents different communities who see her as every woman, not just a Black woman.”

Bynum will face a well-funded opponent: Chavez-DeRemer had nearly $2.7 million in total contributions as of May 1, FEC records show.

And she’s challenge Chavez-DeRemer in a district much larger than in their earlier legislative campaigns against each other, one with many smaller rural communities that often lean conservative. Chavez-DeRemer, who is in her first term, is one of 16 House Republicans who represent districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020.

The race is seen by political experts as a true tossup. The last election was decided by a slim margin of 7,300 votes, just two percentage points.

“I’ve built a solid foundation. I know who I am. I know the people who I love. I know the state that I represent and I know I can do it better than anyone else on the ballot,” Bynum said.

OPB Kathryn Styer Martinez contributed reporting from Bend
Copyright 2024 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Bryce Dole is a JPR content partner from Oregon Public Broadcasting. Bryce was raised in Southern Oregon and graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication.