There’s some debate about exactly where this race stands. Some news outlets rate this race as a toss-up, while Congressional Quarterly and a number of pollsters rate it leaning Democratic. Either way, it’s been a tough race for incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader, and it’s only been tougher the last few weeks, as his challenger Scott Bruun has picked up key endorsements from Oregon’s largest farm organizations, including the Oregon Farm Bureau. Schrader’s strengths in this district are in his approach to small-business growth and Social Security, two areas Bruun is trying to exploit.
Candidates for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes all or parts of Lincoln, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Clackamas, Benton and Multnomah counties along with the cities of Salem, Covallis and Lake Oswego. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Kurt Schrader
Political experience: Schrader was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives and served the 23rd District from 1997 to 2003. He served the 20th District in the Oregon state senate from 2003 to 2008. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving Oregon’s 5th District since 2009. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee, House Small Business Committee and House Budget Committee. Schrader chairs the Finance and Lending Subcommittee on small business
Professional experience: Schrader is a veterinarian and prior to entering politics, he opened the Clackamas County Veterinary Clinic in Oregon City.
Key issues: According to his website, Schrader is focused on job creation and growth through increased lending opportunities and removal of bureaucratic red tape for small business. He also wants to protect Social Security and is opposed to privatization. Schrader wants to help Oregon farms and agricultural products, while still maintaining green initiatives and cutting energy costs.
Endorsements: Schrader is endorsed by the Oregon AFL-CIO, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the Oregon AFSCME, among others.
Chances of maintaining his seat: The district leans Democratic, and Schrader’s been relatively popular. Losing the confidence of the farm vote is a blow, and with the election this close, he can’t afford for Bruun to pick up any more major endorsements like those. Schrader will point to Bruun’s beliefs on the privatization of programs like Social Security and his banking background in order to make him look pro-Wall Street instead of pro-Oregon.
Candidate: Scott Bruun
Political experience: Bruun has been a member of the Oregon House of Representatives since 2005, serving Oregon’s 37th District.
Professional experience: Bruun is a business executive with an MBA and was a commercial and corporate banker for 10 years before joining his family’s general contracting company. He is currently the vice president of investor relations for an investment company as well as a legislator.
Key issues: According to his website, Bruun believes that private-sector job growth and economic security should be his No. 1 priority. He wants to implement tax reform and spending to foster growth in small business. He is against the national health care reform and wants to implement what he calls free market health care that can be bought anywhere in the belief that competition is the only way to lower costs.
Endorsements: Bruun is endorsed by the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Right to Life and the Oregonians for Food and Shelter, among others.
Chances of unseating Kurt Schrader: This race is a toss-up, but it’s a toss-up in a district that leans Democratic, so Bruun has a disadvantage there. If he can convince voters that he can maintain job security and create new ones at the same time, however, he’ll have the upper hand. Look for him to continue to paint Schrader as pro-big government and tax increases.
Key Differences between Scott Bruun and Kurt Schrader
Jobs: Schrader worked to increase lending opportunities and cut red tape for small business. Bruun wants to cut taxes to boost the private sector.
Health care: Schrader voted for the federal health care reform and believes in government investment in public health and the expansion of available resources. Bruun has stated he’s against the federal reform and believes free-market competition is the only way to lower costs.
Social Security: Schrader is firmly against the whole or partial privatization of the Social Security program, believing that it benefits the few over the many and will be fiscally dangerous. Bruun wants to allow younger workers the option of putting a portion of their paychecks into private equity accounts instead of Social Security.
Oregon‘s 5th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Oregon 5th District is located in northwest Oregon, abutting the Pacific Coast and just south of Portland. It includes part of the Willamette Valley, the coast and rural Clackamas, Polk and Multnomah counties. Salem and Covallis are within the boundary for this district.
2008 results: Schrader defeated Republican Mike Erickson 54 percent to 38 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 80 percent of the district is white, 0.8 percent black, 13.3 percent Hispanic, 2.2 percent Asian and 0.9 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Oregon’s 5th District a rating of D+1, giving a slight advantage to Democratic candidates.