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Rep. Kurt Schrader speaks at a press conference

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) speaks at a press conference on June 27, 2019. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'Manchin of the House' Kurt Schrader Officially Defeated in Oregon Primary

"This win proves that voters are hungry for leaders who will fight for working families, not billionaires and Big Pharma," said one group that backed progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Jake Johnson

Progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner was officially declared the winner Friday in the Democratic primary for Oregon's 5th Congressional District, ousting right-wing incumbent and Blue Dog Coalition member Rep. Kurt Schrader, a leading obstructionist in the U.S. House.

In interviews throughout the primary campaign, McLeod-Skinner dubbed Schrader the "Joe Manchin of the House," pointing to his initial vote against the American Rescue Plan and his opposition to congressional Democrats' efforts to lower sky-high prescription drug prices.

President Joe Biden endorsed Schrader in the race despite the right-wing Democrat's role in thwarting elements of the Build Back Better package, which died in the U.S. Senate largely thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Schrader, a close ally of the pharmaceutical industry, opposed his party's widely popular effort to allow Medicare to negotiate prices directly with drug companies, a policy that McLeod-Skinner says she supports.

"You have gone so far to the right that running to the left of you simply means I'm a Democrat," McLeod-Skinner told Schrader during an April debate.

In a social media post on Friday following confirmation of her victory—which was delayed due to barcode issues on ballots in Oregon's third-largest county—McLeod-Skinner wrote that she is "honored to be elected as Oregon's Democratic nominee for Congress in OR-5."

"From Sellwood to Sunriver, Oregonians never stopped believing we can protect our families, our climate, and our civil rights," added McLeod-Skinner, who was endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). "Oregonians—this is your victory."

McLeod-Skinner, who was declared the winner with a lead of 57% to 43%, will face Republican nominee Lori Chavez-DeRemer in November.

Progressive advocacy groups hailed McLeod-Skinner's victory as evidence that Democratic voters are increasingly fed up with lawmakers who prioritize their donors' interests over those of their constituents.

"This is a David and Goliath moment," said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, which backed McLeod-Skinner in the race. "This win proves that voters are hungry for leaders who will fight for working families, not billionaires and Big Pharma."

David Mitchell, a cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, said in a statement Friday that "drug price reform figured prominently in Oregon's 5th Congressional District primary, where Rep. Kurt Schrader tried to reinvent himself as pro-patient and anti-Big Pharma when he in fact led the effort to weaken legislation allowing Medicare negotiation."

"Voters saw through his lies, and for the first time in 42 years, an incumbent member of Congress lost his job in an Oregon primary," Mitchell added. "The result sends a clear message to Democrats and Republicans alike: Americans want Congress to pass legislation to lower drug prices, and those who stand in the way or fail to deliver on their promises will be held accountable by voters at the ballot box. More talk won't do. Fake solutions won't do. No more excuses."

Schrader is the second member of the so-called "unbreakable nine"—a group of House Democrats that helped tank the Build Back Better Act—to be ousted in a primary this year.

Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.), also a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, lost her primary race earlier this week to fellow Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).

"The Broken Nine," People for Bernie mockingly tweeted Friday.


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