CQ Politics on the OR-5 Primaries

CQ Politics takes a look at the Democratic and Republican primary races to replace retiring Congresswoman Darlene Hooley in CD5:

Although the tenor and outcomes of the party’s primary could tip the general election contest to one party’s advantage, CQ Politics currently rates the race as No Clear Favorite. The 5th, which encompasses the state capital of Salem and parts of Corvallis and Portland — but also the farm country of the Willamette Valley — is a classic swing district. Its voters favored President Bush over his 2004 Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry , by just 50 percent to 49 percent.

Erickson ran an energetic campaign in 2006, though the transportation industry executive made his biggest impression with his willingness to self-finance his initial bid for public office. He spent more than $1.5 million of his own money during the 2006 campaign, and clarified that he would like another shot at the seat in 2008.

Mannix, though, may enter with an advantage in name ID from his past campaigns. He has run statewide four times in the last 12 years, twice for attorney general and twice for governor. Prior to that, he represented a Salem area district in the Oregon legislature. Mannix also has deep ties to the Republican establishment, having served as state party chairman from 2003 to 2005.

“Erickson may feel that he’s got a right to be in this thing, since he ran for the seat when the nomination wasn’t worth anything,” Oregon State University political science professor Bill Lunch said. “But Republicans are going to look at Mannix as someone who has paid his dues to the party.”

Next, the Democrats:

On the Democratic side, Marks is best known for serving as Kitzhaber’s chief of staff from 2001 until the end of the governor’s tenure in 2003. Marks has never held office himself, meaning he will have to quickly introduce himself to most primary voters, but his connection to Oregon’s Democratic establishment may give him a boost.

Along with the endorsement he has received from Kitzhaber, Marks is being assisted in his campaign by consultant Joe Trippi. Trippi is best known for his role in the presidential campaigns of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in 2004 and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards for the 2008 nomination. But before all that, Trippi worked on Kitzhaber’s successful campaigns for governor in 1994 and 1998 and the 1996 campaign that saw Hooley take over Oregon’s 5th District for the Democrats.

He is opposed by Schrader, a veterinarian who represents Canby, a small town in largely rural and exurban Clackamas County south of Portland, and serves as co-chairman of the legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee. In an interview with CQ Politics, Schrader said he’ll look to wield those credentials to position himself as the kind of centrist who can hold onto a swing district like the 5th. Schrader calls himself “a financial conservative . . . someone who understands small businesses and the challenges they face.”

Schrader has his own high-profile endorsement, from Kulongoski, the current two-term Democratic governor. “Schrader has more connections and contacts that he’ll be able to call on, especially in his base in Clackamas County, ” says Lunch, noting that Marks has yet to establish a constituency.

Party interest in the race could be especially high on both sides this year, said blogger and author Randy Stapilus, a longtime observer of Oregon politics. While the state’s marquee race is likely to be the Democrats’ challenge to Republican Sen. Gordon Smith — currently rated by CQ Politics as Leans Republican — the three incumbent Democrats and one Republican seeking re-election to their House seats all are rated as runaway favorites.

“The lack of competitive races on a state level is going to fuel interest, attention and money into the 5th,” said Stapilus.

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • Jon (unverified)

    While I can appreciate the position that Smith will most likely glide to re-election: considering that none of Oregon's Democratic delegation in Congress was willing to run against him, leaving only our "B" team to challange him, I take issue that Schrader is not the clear winner in the primary. While I have the upmost respect for Steve, he does not have the bi-partisen record ( ala Hooley) that Schrader has, that will only help him in the general against Mannix.

  • (Show?)

    Jon, please add a secondary identifier to your name. A last name is preferred, but an initial is fine - or even something else (like "Jon from Tigard" or something.)

    Among our contributors, we have two people named Jon, two people named John, and one Jonathan. And then there's all the other commenters.

    <h2>Let's avoid confusion.</h2>
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