Democratic Congressman Endorses Independent For Governor

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Two months after voters in Oregon denied Democrat Kurt Schrader an eighth term in Congress, he endorsed an unaffiliated candidate for governor on Tuesday instead of the Democratic nominee.

“People are concerned with the far-right and they’re exhausted with the extremism on the left,” Schrader said in a statement put out by the gubernatorial campaign of Betsy Johnson.

Johnson, a former veteran state lawmaker and who once belonged to — and then quit — both the Republican and Democratic parties, is trying to gather enough signatures to get on the November ballot in the governor race.

In Oregon’s May 17 Democratic primary, Schrader lost to Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a progressive challenger. Republican voters selected Lori Chavez-DeRemer, a former mayor of Happy Valley, Oregon, as their candidate in the state’s 5th Congressional District.

After Schrader lost by some 13 percentage points, he told Portland’s KATU television station that an influx of voters from liberal regions to the town of Bend, which was newly included in the redrawn district and is famed for its outdoor recreation and microbreweries, had contributed to his defeat.

“Bend’s extremely liberal -- a lot of folks there from Seattle and California in the last 10 years, and I think that made a huge difference,” Schrader said. “I think the Democratic Party has moved quite a bit to the left, moving out from underneath me.”

In the race for governor, Johnson would face Democratic nominee Tina Kotek, a former long-time speaker of the Oregon House, and GOP nominee Christine Drazan, a former leader of the minority Republicans in the House. Current Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, could not run again because of term limits.

Kotek's campaign spokeswoman, Katie Wertheimer, said Johnson’s and Schrader’s voting records are "out of touch with the majority of Oregonians — especially in their shared opposition to common sense gun violence prevention bills. So today’s news really isn’t very surprising after all.”

Johnson said on Twitter that she's pleased with Schrader's endorsement. Her campaign must deliver at least 23,744 registered voters’ signatures to the secretary of state’s office by Aug. 16 to get on the ballot.