Metro’s Lynn Peterson drops out of Oregon 5th District race, endorses Rep. Bynum in Democratic primary

Metro Council President Lynn Peterson is dropping out of the Democratic primary in one of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts and throwing her support behind state Rep. Janelle Bynum.

Peterson was the first Democrat to officially enter the race in the 5th Congressional District, which is now represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer. She struggled to gain ground against better-known and better-funded competitors Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the 2022 nominee.

Her exit means a head-to-head matchup for McLeod-Skinner and Bynum, who Peterson said has her enthusiastic endorsement and full support.

“Over the course of the last eight months since I declared, almost 1,500 people invested in this campaign to protect and strengthen our democracy,” Peterson continued. “I want to thank each one of them for their commitment and investment and ask them to support Representative Bynum because working together we can take back the U.S. Congress.”

The 5th District stretches from Bend to the outskirts of Portland and includes Aurora, Beavercreek, Bend, Canby, Gladstone, Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Molalla, Oregon City and West Linn. It’s one of just 22 races across the nation that the Cook Political Report classifies as tossups that could go to one party or another. Chavez-DeRemer won by 2.1 percentage points and just under 7,300 votes in 2022, and Democrats hope to recapture the district this year.

About 25,000 more Democrats than Republicans are registered to vote in the district, and those numbers as well as anticipated higher turnout for a presidential election year have Democrats feeling bullish about their chances. But they’re split on whether Bynum, a four-term state representative who twice beat Chavez-DeRemer in legislative races, or McLeod-Skinner, who has a strong grassroots base but has lost two congressional races and the primary for secretary of state, is the right candidate.

Bynum’s legislative district includes Happy Valley and portions of Clackamas County east of Milwaukie and Gladstone. Metro serves the urban portions of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. 

Bynum told the Capital Chronicle — a news partner of the Pamplin Media Group — she appreciated Peterson’s career in public service and the work she put into the campaign and standing up for Democratic values. She said undecided primary voters should consider that President Joe Biden won the district by 9 points in 2022 and McLeod-Skinner lost it by two points, a “pretty significant” 11-point swing.

“I’m just looking forward to moving on with a broad coalition of support and proving again and again why I’m a winner, and why I’ve been successful at beating Republican incumbent Lori Chavez-DeRemer twice,” she said.

Bynum previously locked up an endorsement from Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek and has the full support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She and McLeod-Skinner were neck-and-neck in fundraising in 2023, with Bynum raising just more than $439,000 and McLeod-Skinner collecting a little bit less.

McLeod-Skinner responded to a report on Monday, Feb. 19, that Peterson was expected to leave the race by posting on social media that she respected Peterson’s years of public service and appreciated the opportunity to connect with her on the campaign trail.

“With her departure, I’m now the sole pro-Labor and pro-environment candidate in the race & our grassroots team is getting this news to voters,” McLeod-Skinner tweeted.

Bynum said voters can track her legislative record over the past eight years, adding that U.S. Rep. Andrea Salinas, an environmental champion, endorsed her right away.

Peterson is almost halfway through her second four-year term as president of the Metro Council, the only elected regional government of its kind in the country. She said her work will continue at the local level.

“Metro is in the midst of critical work — the I-5 bridge replacement project, bringing our regional economic vibrancy back, completing the 4,700 units of affordable housing and implementing the Supportive Housing Services measure — that deserves my undivided attention,” she said.

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 Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter.


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