Jamie McLeod-Skinner is challenging Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon (D-Ore.), on the ground that he doesn’t make a good ally for President Joe Biden.
Associated Press/Getty

The progressive insurgency that toppled many prominent blue-state Democrats is now coming for one of Big Pharma’s closest allies in the House: Rep. Kurt Schrader (D).

Schrader, a veterinarian and the House’s 11th-biggest recipient of donations from pharmaceutical industry PACs, elicited the left’s ire for his initial opposition to President Joe Biden and congressional leadership’s plan to empower Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices.

It’s one of several ways that Schrader, who has long been on the conservative side of his party’s caucus in the House, has become one of the Biden administration’s most prominent intra-party antagonists.

Now Schrader’s more liberal constituents will have a chance to voice their discontent at the ballot box. Jamie McLeod Skinner, an Oregon attorney and member of the school board, said in October that she will challenge Schrader, in order to send both a Biden ally as well as a progressive candidate to Washington.

“This is a really challenging time for Oregonians, but really for all Americans,” McLeod-Skinner told HuffPost in an interview. “My primary opponent is undermining an agenda intended to help us recover from the COVID economy and help our country get back on its feet.”

“I’ll definitely run to the left of him,” she added. “But Kurt has become so conservative that running to the left of him just means you’re a Democrat.”

Schrader rejects the notion that he has obstructed Biden’s agenda, pointing to his support for the version of the Build Back Better Act that passed the House with new prescription drug regulations.

“I’ve been a leader in Congress for years to lower drug costs for all Oregonians, especially our seniors,” Schrader said in a statement to HuffPost. “I led the tough negotiations to successfully incorporate my prescription drug price reduction plan into the Build Back Better Act which would be the most significant improvement in reducing drug costs since the inception of Medicare Part D 15 years ago. I also secured a cap on seniors’ out-of-pocket costs to $2,000 per year, a $35 cap on insulin per month and gave Medicare the ability to negotiate.”

“I’ll definitely run to the left of him. But Kurt has become so conservative that running to the left of him just means you’re a Democrat.”

– Jamie McLeod-Skinner

Schrader was bequeathed by his grandfather. fortune amassed at PfizerHe omitted that he was able to negotiate lower prescription drug prices under the Build back Better Act because he was among a few Democrats who opposed more extensive reforms. Biden and Democratic leaders tried to give Medicare the ability to negotiate lower prices despite Schrader’s objections and those of others. more drugs than the law ultimately allowed, and with stronger recourse if pharmaceutical companies didn’t bargain in good faith.

Schrader stated that he supported changing the Constitution in order to reduce the impact of spending from outside sources.

“I have introduced a constitutional amendment every year since 2010 to overturn Citizen United to get big money out of politics,” he said.

Overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision would do nothing, on its own, to make Schrader’s reliance on pharmaceutical industry cash illegal.

As is true across the country, the politics of Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, now a general-election swing seat, are regionally specific. The seat, which once stretched from Portland’s outer suburbs into central Oregon, now veers further east and is ever so slightly less DemocraticIt is now more than before the redistricting of this year.

McLeod-Skinner faces an uphill battle, both in unseating Schrader — a seven-term incumbent — in the May 2022 primaryIn preventing a Republican takeover, in which case it is possible to win a historic election for the GOP.

However, there are likely to be national ripple effects from the race. A strong showing from McLeod-Skinner would signify that there are political costs for a Democrat willing to cross the party’s president. Schrader’s rout of her would, however, indicate that Democrats in liberal states such as Oregon continue to prioritise electability over other issues.

“The primarying from the left is about how to make government work for more people and that is a very popular kind of stance in states like Oregon,” said Christopher Nichols, an Oregon State University historian who closely watches Oregon politics. “If the primary, or the election itself, pivots on if Schrader has been a good friend to Biden and the Biden administration, that will benefit whoever his opponents are.”

Progressive protesters in Washington, D.C., single out Schrader and a handful of other Democrats who voted against advancing a prescription drug price negotiation policy.
Washington, D.C. progressive protestors have singled out Schrader, along with a few other Democrats, for voting against an anti-prescription drug price negotiation policy.
Tom Williams/Getty Images

Avoiding Progressive ‘Buzzwords’

A specific pattern is common for progressive primary challenges. An incumbent who is more liberal than the one in question will attempt to oust him. This happens because a solid Democratic district requires a progressive, forward-thinking and ethical representative. Often, but not always, the challenger, who is often younger than the incumbent from an historically marginalized neighborhood, tries to oust the incumbent.

McLeod Skinner is in some ways a mirror of these candidates. She counts her election to the Jefferson County school board as the first instance of an open lesbian winning elected office east of Oregon’s Cascade mountain range, which divides the state’s ultra-liberal northwest from the rural and conservative central and eastern regions.

McLeod Skinner supports the standard list of social-democratic, ambitious policy goals. These have been a test of candidates for the approval of activists left. She supports a “Medicare for All” single-payer health care system, the adoption of a $15 minimum wage at the federal level, and a Green New Deal to transform the United States’ energy infrastructure.

McLeod Skinner’s belief in the failure of the left to communicate effectively and efficiently with rural Americans is where she differs from others progressives.

“The pitfall has been grabbing onto buzzwords and not just focusing on ideas,” McLeod-Skinner said. “I wish you could have been there with me for some of the conversations I had in some of the most rural and conservative parts of our state, where the ideas that people are talking about and what people want for their families and their future are what any pundit would call a hardcore progressive idea.”

McLeod Skinner isn’t a fan of rural life. Raised in southwestern Oregon, she and her wife now live in a modest house on a gravel road in central Oregon’s high-desert region. The couple, which technically lives just outside of Oregon’s 5th, lives with two dogs, numerous chickens, and three goats.

“Oregon’s 5th Congressional District has been my home for more than 40 years.”

– Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)

McLeod Skinner enjoys reminiscing about her close relationship with a neighbor, who flew a Trump flag for more than one year.

On questions like climate action, ensuring universal health care, and making child care and higher education more affordable, McLeod-Skinner is convinced that different kinds of rhetoric are all that’s needed to bring in voters like her neighbor who might otherwise be reluctant to vote for Democrats.

“I don’t believe in spending public money, I believe in investing it,” she said. “When you talk about the ideas of investing in our families and working together to get there, call it what you want, I see it as a path forward and I see it as a solution.”

Occasionally, McLeod-Skinner’s efforts to leapfrog cultural third-rail issues can veer into evasiveness. Pressed repeatedly on whether she supported reductions in funding for traditional policing — the central demand of the “defund the police movement” — McLeod-Skinner refused to answer directly. Particularly, I asked McLeod-Skinner if she supported non-police intervention (such as a pilot program for mental-health emergencies) that could replace or merely augment traditional policing.

“I reject the premise of your question,” she said. “I more broadly define public safety than simply having officers show up in uniform, in a police car, responding to calls. It’s community engagement. It’s community relationships.”

A man fly fishes along the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon, in August. McLeod-Skinner hopes that her roots in central Oregon will give her an edge over Schrader.
In August, a man fishes on the Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon. McLeod Skinner believes that Schrader will be able to take advantage of her central Oregon roots.
Nathan Howard/Associated Press

Fighting For Rural Votes

McLeod Skinner uses her law degree for a business that specializes in policy consulting. However, she doesn’t have the polished presentation one would expect from a politician who is born to address a crowd. Her demeanour is warm and gentle, and she speaks clearly and objectively about the importance of common-sense policies to reduce wildfires and expand health care access.

She compensates for the lackluster appearance with an impressive record of being able to punch above her weight in rural areas. A much smaller physique campaign war chestMcLeod Skinner was awarded a respectable 39% of the vote in her 2018 run against Rep. Greg Walden, a prominent Republican representing Oregon’s solidly conservative eastern regions. Hillary Clinton was elected just 36% of the vote in Walden’s district in 2016.

Several of the more Democratic parts of Walden’s district that she won, such as the increasingly liberal city of Bend, are now in Oregon’s 5th.

“Her strong advantage is that she is known in and around central Oregon,” said Judy Stiegler, a former Democratic state representative from Bend who teaches political science at Oregon State University, Cascades. “She has proven herself with a growing Democratic electorate over in this part of the state.”

McLeod-Skinner’s 2020 runShe was not as competitive for the post of secretary-of-state. She came in third placeIn the primary she received 28% of votes in a race that had three candidates, where the winner took 36%. But she still won Deschutes County (which is where Bend lives) by a huge margin.

McLeod Skinner is now a well-respected professional in southwest Oregon. She has also served a time as a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture. interim city managerTalent municipality. She was instrumental in securing the Talent municipality’s June 2008 city $1 millionState funds are available to aid in the rehabilitation of major wildfires.

That kind of first-hand experience governing is part of what McLeod-Skinner believes makes her a “pragmatic progressive.”

“I’m progressive in my ideas, but I still want to get them across the finish line,” she said.

Schrader (left) greets then-Vice President Joe Biden in June 2010. McLeod-Skinner hopes Democratic voters want a representative who is ideologically closer to Biden.
Schrader (left) greeted Joe Biden as Vice President in June 2010. McLeod Skinner hopes Democratic voters desire a candidate who is more ideologically aligned with Biden.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Party loyalty vs. electability

McLeod-Skinner’s best path to the Democratic nomination is to make the race a referendum on Schrader’s loyalty to Biden and the Democratic Party’s values.

Moderate elected officials often choose to break with their party when the party’s stance is unpopular in their district. Schrader decided to split with Biden over the Medicare prescription drug price negotiations. extremely popularThe ideological spectrum.

Schrader was also one of two Democrats in the House to vote against Biden’s COVID-19 economic relief legislation, which included $1,400 checks to most American families.

He raised eyebrows when he said that the attempt to impeach Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was likened to an apocalypse. “lynching.”Later, he apologised for his remarks.

“It isn’t just that he is more moderate, but he has been oppositional” to key elements of the Democratic Party’s agenda, Stiegler said.

Discontent with Schrader’s voting behavior has already helped spark an upswell of significant endorsementsMcLeod Skinner. McLeod-Skinner has three state senators and three state representatives as well as a number of elected officials from the local level, along with three Indivisible chapters.

“I’m progressive in my ideas, but I still want to get them across the finish line.”

– McLeod-Skinner

Schrader does have some advantages over his opponent. Schrader will probably be able to point out that, unlike McLeod Skinner’s district home, he is actually a resident of the area.

“Oregon’s 5th Congressional District has been my home for more than 40 years,” he said in a statement to HuffPost. “It is where I proudly raised my family, built my veterinary practice, operated my farm and served my neighbors.”

It is likely that he will also make the argument that he’s the most electable candidate during a tough cycle for Democrats. Redistricting reduced the seat’sAccording to an established metric, the partisan Democratic leaning from D+4 and D+3 varies according to who developed it. FiveThirtyEight. It remains to be seen how that inside-baseball score plays out with voters, although Schrader won the contest by just seven points in 2020 in a district Biden won by almost 10One could argue, however that Democrats might be defeated by a more progressive candidate. That McLeod-Skinner lost races for secretary of state and for Congress — however strong her performances in central Oregon — only adds weight to that point.

Nichols, the OSU professor, agreed: “‘She’s not a winner’ would be a quick take there that is usually quite effective in Oregon and Democratic politics.”

Source: HuffPost.com.

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