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May 16, 2024

Republicans Allegedly Meddle in Oregon Primary, Democrats Raise Concerns

A new political storm is brewing in Oregon’s political landscape just days before the Democratic primary, with concerns raised about alleged Republican meddling in a key swing district. The primary race features Janelle Bynum and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, both Democrats vying for a chance to compete against Republican incumbent Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

The contest, set for Tuesday, is crucial as Democrats and Republicans eye control of the House. President Joe Biden won Oregon’s district, now represented by a Republican, making it one of the 16 pivotal battlegrounds. However, the race has been thrown into uncertainty with the emergence of a new super PAC named Health Equity Now, which has injected substantial funds into the campaign just ahead of the primary.

According to media tracking firm AdImpact, Health Equity Now has reserved approximately $352,000 in advertising spots supporting McLeod-Skinner. The ads highlight McLeod-Skinner’s progressive values, advocating for Medicare for all and confronting insurance companies.

What has sparked concern among Democrats is the association of the ad-buying firm, Fidi Media, LLC, with Republican candidates, as per FEC records. Trevor Kowalski, listed as the treasurer for Health Equity Now, has past ties to Republican fundraising efforts, raising suspicions of GOP involvement.

The Bynum campaign has been vocal about the perceived interference, with spokesperson Blakely Wall stating, “Let us be crystal clear, Jamie McLeod-Skinner is House Republicans’ dream opponent because they know they can beat her — making this shady GOP election meddling in a Democratic primary all the more alarming.”

McLeod-Skinner, while disavowing knowledge of the group, affirmed the accuracy of the message in the ads, emphasizing her support for accessible healthcare. Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed Bynum on its Red to Blue list, offering support, but has not endorsed McLeod-Skinner.

Independent expenditures in the Democratic primary have overwhelmingly favored Bynum, with over $1.2 million flowing to boost her campaign or oppose McLeod-Skinner. However, the true battle lies ahead, with the primary winner set to face a well-financed Republican incumbent. Rep. Chavez-DeRemer boasts nearly $1.9 million in cash on hand, according to FEC records.

Despite these developments, Rep. Richard Hudson, chairman of the campaign arm for House Republicans, denies knowledge of any involvement in the Democratic primary, claiming ignorance of Health Equity Now and its ad campaign.

As the primary day approaches, the infusion of outside money and alleged partisan influence raises questions about the integrity of the electoral process and the role of undisclosed funds in shaping political outcomes. The outcome of Tuesday’s primary could serve as a bellwether for the broader political landscape, reflecting the balance of power and the extent of external influence in American democracy.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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