There have to be some sweaty palms over this big battle of the hyphens.

…With the balance of power on the line in Congress, Oregon’s hotly contested 5th Congressional District race is in the national spotlight — and polls currently show a contest that’s too close to call.

Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who defeated incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in the May primary, is going head-to-head with Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer. One certainty in the race is that Oregon will add another woman to its Congressional delegation to join Democrat Suzanne Bonamici, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District.

Considered a moderate, Kurt Schrader had been the 5th District’s congressman for seven (!) terms and was sent packing in the Democratic primary for the newly redrawn district by McLeod-Skinner. There were also the dang near de rigueur Democratic voting irregularities – what is it with these people?

Seven-term U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader has been ousted in a Democratic primary in Oregon by progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

The vote count in the state’s 5th Congressional District was significantly delayed due to ballots with blurry bar codes in Oregon’s third-largest being rejected by vote-counting machines. Workers in Clackamas County had to transfer votes by hand to fresh ballots so they could be tallied.

It’s a huge district, kissed up against the southside of Portland, and running south “into rural communities in the central part of the state.” Portland progressives were more and more upset with Schreader’s moderate stance…

…Schrader has voted against some of Biden’s priorities, including a money-saving plan to let Medicare negotiate the price it pays for prescription drugs.

Schrader has faced mounting criticism from progressive Democrats. A year ago, he was one of only two members of his party to vote against a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill because, among several reasons, he did not support including an increase to the minimum wage.

…and had finally had enough. The problem being, they may have pulled the trigger too late.

…The district was redrawn prior to this election after the state was given a sixth congressional seat. It now includes Willamette Valley communities such as Silverton, Stayton, Detroit and Linn County, part of the Portland metro area including Lake Oswego and Oregon City, and central Oregon cities such as Bend, Redmond and Sisters.

The district was redrawn with a slight advantage for Democratic candidates. But since the primary, that advantage has waned.

Enter Lori Chavez-DeRemer. An engaging speaker, accomplished businesswoman – she and her physician husband own an anesthesiology and wellness business – and former mayor of the small town of Happy Valley, Chavez-DeRemer thumped the Republican primary crowd, garnering 42% of the vote, and has been working the district in retail politic fashion relentlessly. It doesn’t hurt that her excellent reputation proceeds her.

…On a recent Saturday at the Salem Convention Center, she tells a room full of people from the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Oregon that when she is elected, they are welcome to contact her anytime. When they offer her a poster, she asks everyone in the room to sign it, and promises to post it on the wall of her office in the nation’s capital.

One of the group’s leaders talks about how Chavez-DeRemer helped get a bill in the state Legislature that would not tax soldiers’ “hazard pay” when they get called for emergency duty this year. She advocated for that move, even though she wasn’t in office.

“Lori’s been huge,” Grant Roper, vice president of the association, said. “There is no way I could have even thought as an association to put a House bill in short session without her.”

It also has been a huge help that she’s got a great sense of humor. Witness this campaign video pulled from their recent debate.

Girlfriend just can’t say the “PROG” word, can she? That’s hilarious, and OH, so telling. The voters in OR-05 have noticed, too, which is why the race has moved from “leans Dem” to “Pure Toss-Up

FiveThirtyEight has Chavez-DeRemer narrowly ahead. Now, a lot can still go sideways, but even the Democrats were wondering if they’d shot themselves in the foot deep-sixing a moderate in this year of all years.

…While Democrats have held the seat since 1997, there are concerns by some in the party that a more progressive candidate would face a tougher time getting elected in the region after it was changed following redistricting.

More fools they. And that the Republican candidate just seems to have her act together? What a pity.

This should be good watching and hopefully yet another nasty surprise in the making for the other side. With Glenn Reynolds’ caution always in our ear (“Don’t get cocky“), we’ll just get excited.

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