POLITICS

Republicans outraise Democrats in 2 of 3 competitive Oregon congressional races

Republicans running in Oregon’s 4th and 6th district congressional races raised more money than their Democratic opponents (Les Zaitz/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Republicans running in competitive Oregon congressional districts largely outraised Democrats last quarter, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

In fact, only one of the three Democrats running for Congress – Terrebonne attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the 5th District – raised more money than her Republican opponent, former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

Both political parties are targeting three Oregon races as national Democrats try to maintain their U.S. House majority in a political environment that favors Republicans. The 4th and 5th Congressional Districts have long been represented by Democrats, while Democrats hold an advantage in voter registration and historical turnout in the new 6th District. 

The Oregon races aren’t as expensive as others throughout the country – the state’s most prolific congressional fundraiser, Republican Alek Skarlatos, ranks 130th on the Federal Election Commission’s list of top fundraisers – but quarterly reports that were due last Friday point to intense fall election battles across southern and central Oregon and the Willamette Valley. 

The quarterly campaign finance reports from the Federal Election Commission cover all campaign contributions and spending between April 28 and June 30, including the last few weeks of the primary campaign. 

Burn rate shows how a candidate’s quarterly spending compares to fundraising. An amount higher than 100% means the candidate spent more than they raised. (Table by Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

4th District: Hoyle vs. Skarlatos

Skarlatos, a former Army National Guardsman, has been running since shortly after he lost in 2020 to U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat. He became a minor celebrity after stopping an armed terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015, and DeFazio described their 2020 race as the toughest of his more than 30-year congressional career. 

Skarlatos, who did not have a primary opponent, raised more than $550,000 in the last quarter and more than $2.5 million since the beginning of 2021. He spends money almost as quickly as he raises it and had about $660,000 left in his campaign bank account by June 30. 

Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle handily won the Democratic nomination in the 4th District, which includes Eugene and much of southern Oregon, after DeFazio announced his retirement.

The district’s demographics are better for Democrats now than they were prior to redistricting, and national political analysts at the Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics classify it as “likely Democratic.”

Hoyle raised almost $374,000 in the last quarter and almost $1.2 million total since she began her campaign last December. She spent more than $333,000 last quarter and has about $318,000 available.

5th District: McLeod-Skinner vs. Chavez-DeRemer

McLeod-Skinner ousted incumbent U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader in the May Democratic primary despite his two-to-one fundraising advantage. Now, McLeod-Skinner, who previously lost a 2018 congressional contest against Republican Rep. Greg Walden, is running for the first time as a top dog. 

McLeod-Skinner raised more than $580,000 over the last quarter, nearly doubling her total campaign haul to almost $1.3 million. She’s spending at a lower rate than other candidates, and she still has almost $389,000 in available cash. 

Chavez-DeRemer raised $391,000 last quarter and just over $1 million overall. She has just over $166,000 available as of the end of June.

The 5th District, which stretches from Bend to Portland, represents Republicans’ best chance of picking up a second Oregon congressional seat. National analysts consider it a “toss-up” district. 

Only one publicly available poll has been conducted in the district, between June 1 and 2. That poll, paid for by Democratic group 314 Action, showed a 1-point lead for Chavez-DeRemer. 

The district includes roughly even numbers of Democratic and nonaffiliated voters – 169,849 to 169,515 – and about 145,000 Republicans, according to July voter registration figures from the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

6th District: Erickson vs. Salinas

The new 6th Congressional District, which includes Salem, drew nine Democrats, seven Republicans and jaw-dropping contributions from a crypto billionaire, but ultimately Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas and Republican consultant Mike Erickson made it through their primaries. 

The race is on pace to be the state’s most expensive congressional general election, with Erickson and Salinas neck-and-neck in fundraising last quarter. He raised $683,000 last quarter and $1.4 million overall, compared to almost $680,000 and $1.3 million for her.

Erickson ended the quarter with $243,000 on hand, and Salinas had $363,000. National analysts rate the district as “likely Democratic.”

The non-competitive races

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, Democratic Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumanauer and Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz are also on the ballot this November, but they don’t face serious challenges. 

Neither Wyden’s opponent – perennial candidate Jo Rae Perkins – nor Bonamici’s – Army veteran Chris Mann – filed their quarterly campaign finance reports on time. Blumenauer’s opponent, Republican attorney Joanna Harbour of Estacada, reported raising just $700 during the last quarter. And Democrat Joseph Yetter, who’s challenging Bentz, raised just over $16,000. 

Bonamici, Blumenauer and Bentz all had modest fundraising, gathering between $101,000 and $173,000. Wyden dwarfs all congressional candidates, with almost $12.9 million raised in the past two years and more than $1 million last quarter alone. 

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Les Zaitz for questions: [email protected] Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

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