Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, works on the House floor at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek will back state Rep. Janelle Bynum in her run for Congress, throwing her substantial political weight behind one candidate in the hotly contested Democratic primary.
Kotek’s endorsement comes as Bynum, D-Clackamas, is locked in a heated primary for the 5th Congressional District with Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a central Oregon attorney and frequent candidate who narrowly lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer last year. Metro Council President Lynn Peterson is also running.
Democrats, both statewide and nationally, consider defeating Chavez-DeRemer a top priority.
“Who we send to Congress to represent Oregon is incredibly important, especially now when our values are under attack at the federal level,” Kotek said in a statement. “Oregonians deserve a leader who shares their beliefs and puts our families before politics when it matters most. That’s why we need to elect Janelle – a leader with the tenacity, compassion and commitment to deliver real results for Oregon families.”
Kotek praised Bynum’s “bipartisan track record” in the state House on issues including gun violence prevention, affordable housing and reproductive rights. Bynum has served in the House since 2017, and she twice beat current U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in legislative races.
Kotek was the House speaker for most of Bynum’s time in office. Bynum publicly considered challenging her for the speaker role in 2020, abandoning that attempt after Kotek pledged to ensure people of color had a spot in House Democratic leadership and approve funding for the Legislature’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color Caucus to hire its own staff. Bynum is the only Black woman in the House and at times has been the only Black representative.
Kotek is the latest high-profile Oregon Democrat to get behind Bynum, joining U.S. Reps. Andrea Salinas and Suzanne Bonamici, state Treasurer Tobias Read, several state senators and 21 Democratic state representatives.
“From our time serving together as state representatives to now, Governor Kotek knows that I’ll never shy away from the fight for Oregonians,” Bynum said. “The last few weeks of chaos and dysfunction have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Republican extremists like Lori Chavez-DeRemer are incapable of governing with our community’s best interests in mind, and our district needs a change.”
Polling and fundraising show a close race between Bynum and McLeod-Skinner, with Peterson trailing the two Democratic frontrunners. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district, which stretches from Bend to east Portland.
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