McDonald's franchise owner backed by top Dems wins key primary that could swing control of Congress

Oregon State Rep. Janelle Bynum won the Democratic primary in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District on Tuesday, putting her on a collision course with the Republican incumbent, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, this fall.

Bynum defeated Jamie McLeod-Skinner to advance to face Chavez-DeRemer in a race widely expected to play a significant role in deciding which party controls the House of Representatives.

McLeod-Skinner narrowly lost to Chavez-DeRemer two years ago after defeating longtime Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in the 2022 primary by running as a progressive to his left.

Some top Democrats believe Bynum, who represents Portland’s southeast suburbs in the state House, is more likely to win in a general election. Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek and three Democratic members of Oregon’s U.S. House delegation have endorsed Bynum.

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“This is one of the big swing districts nationally that both parties are really looking for to hold on to, or recapture, the House,” Ben Gaskins, associate professor of political science at Lewis & Clark College, told The Associated Press about Oregon’s 5th District. 

“I think that the big question is to what degree are the Democratic voters really going to prioritize electability?”

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Bynum, from Washington, D.C., was elected to the Oregon House in 2016, representing the suburbs southeast of Portland. She has served on the chamber’s small business committee and is the owner of four McDonald’s franchises.

Oregon’s 5th Congressional District includes all of Linn County, most of Clackamas and Deschutes counties, and parts of Marion and Multnomah counties.

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Chavez-DeRemer, who does not have a primary opponent, is the first Republican woman to represent Oregon in the U.S. House. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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