A trio of political endorsements and a revised election forecast topped political news on Tuesday.
Independent Party nominates McLeod-Skinner
The Independent Party of Oregon announced Tuesday that it was nominating Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner as its candidate for the 5th Congressional District race. U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, lost the May 17 Democratic primary to McLeod-Skinner, a Terrebonne attorney. Former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer is the Republican nominee.
The IPO is Oregon's largest minor party, with 138,377 members among the state's more than 2.96 million registered voters. It has 26,870 members among the 521,518 registered voters in the 5th District.
Under new political maps approved for the 2022 election, the 5th District runs from Portland in Multnomah County, through parts of Clackamas, Linn, Marion, Deschutes and a tiny sliver of Jefferson counties.
Candidates who run without party affiliation in Oregon are termed "non-affiliated" so as not to confuse voters with IPO-backed candidates.
The IPO most often "cross-nominates" one of the major party candidates in a race, though it has fielded its own candidates at times. It nominated McLeod-Skinner when she was the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District in 2018 against incumbent U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River. Walden won in the heavily Republican district, but was held to his lowest victory percentage of his 20-year career in the U.S. House.
“We nominated Jamie in 2018 because of her commitment to bridging divides, protecting our civil rights, communities, and environment, and treating people with respect," Andrew Kaza, co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon said Tuesday in a statement released by McLeod-Skinner's campaign. "Jamie has successfully fought for us against the corporate interests that dominate our politics."
Sen. Brian Boquist of Dallas is the sole state officeholder who is an IPO member. Elected to the Senate four times as a Republican, he left the GOP in January 2021 and re-registered as an IPO member.
Kotek endorsed by Bloomberg-backed gun control group
Democrat Tina Kotek was endorsed for governor on Tuesday by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, a national gun control group that receives significant financial support from billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund contributed over $750,000 to Gov. Kate Brown's 2018 re-election campaign. In 2022, the fund so far has given $5,000 to a ballot measure to bar the re-election of lawmakers who walk out on legislative sessions
The group and its affiliated networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, report 10 million supporters in the United States.
Kotek has highlighted her support for gun control legislation in her race with Republican Christine Drazan. Former Sen. Betsy Johnson, who is expected to qualify for the November ballot as a non-affiliated candidate, has often sided with Republicans on gun law votes in the Legislature. She has a federal Class 3 firearms license that allows her to own what she said in 2013 is a "Cold War" vintage automatic weapon.
Gun control advocates have qualified a measure on the November ballot that would require firearms buyers to complete a background check and go through gun safety training before they are given a permit to purchase their own gun. The initiative also bans the sale of new gun magazines which hold more than 10 rounds. A database would be created by the Oregon State Police to track firearms that are stolen, lost or used in crimes.
Kotek on Tuesday also announced she had received the official endorsement of the Oregon AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education, representatives of the political arm of the labor organization representing 300,000 workers. The endorsement called Kotek a "labor champion."
Top political forecaster tempers Kotek's odds of winning
The Cook Political Report on Tuesday reported that it was shifting its forecast of the Oregon governor's race from "Likely Democratic" to "Leaning Democratic."
While Kotek remains favored to continue Democrats' win streak in races for governor that stretches back to 1986, a combination of low popularity for President Joe Biden and Gov. Kate Brown, along with the uncertain impact of Johnson's insurgent bid, led the Washington, D.C.-based election watcher to soften its certainty of a Democratic win in November.
The Cook Report ratings are built around a Democrat vs. Republican scenario. The campaign of Oregon GOP nominee Christine Drazan, the former House minority leader, touted the shift as evidence of a move in her favor.
"Our momentum is unmistakable, Christine Drazan is ready to flip Oregon this November," said Drazan spokesman John Burke in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
But Cook Political Report analyst wrote analyst Jessica Taylor underlined the uncertainty caused by Johnson's entry into the race.
"Three-way election contests are a tricky thing," Taylor wrote. "A well-funded third-party candidate can often play spoiler, allowing the minority party even in a state that largely leans to the opposite party to sneak through a win. Such are the dynamics playing out in the open Oregon gubernatorial race, giving Republicans an increasingly plausible opportunity, even though the state last elected a GOP governor in 1982."