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Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum is seeking the nomination for a chance to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

DCCC-backed Bynum on potential Chavez-DeRemer race

The DCCC rarely plays in open primaries. But the House Democrats’ campaign arm took the unusual step of endorsing Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum in a toss-up seat, hoping to block failed 2022 candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner from advancing to the general.

Bynum is seeking the nomination for a chance to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer. President Joe Biden carried Oregon’s 5th District by nine points in 2020. And if Democrats want to flip the House, they need to win seats like this in the fall.

We sat down with Bynum in D.C. ahead of the May 21 primary to get her take on the race – one of the most contentious Democratic primaries of the cycle.

On electability: Bynum said she was the best choice in the Democratic primary because she has “a track record of winning.”

In 2022, McLeod-Skinner mounted a left-wing challenge to knock off then-Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) in the primary. She then lost to Chavez-DeRemer in November.

Bynum, however, wouldn’t attack McLeod-Skinner for losing last cycle. But Bynum did tout her own electoral success against Chavez-DeRemer. The pair faced off in two elections — in 2016 and 2018 — for the state House. Bynum won them both.

“[W]hen I decided to run in 2016, Chavez-DeRemer was our city mayor. And I was a mom who was very concerned about education and small business in our district,” Bynum said.

“I don’t know that many people believed that I could do it, but I did it. And then [Chavez-DeRemer] came back for more, and I beat her by an even stronger margin.”

Abortion rights: In the primary campaign, Bynum has messaged mainly on her support for abortion rights. As we’ve covered repeatedly, Democrats plan on using Republican attacks on reproductive rights as a top issue in November.

Bynum criticized Chavez-DeRemer, who has sent mailers hailing her “pro-life” voting record, for her stances in a state that has strong protections for abortion.

“I think that that’s going to be a challenge for Chavez-DeRemer to defend her record, but mine is solid,” Bynum said.

Her record: As a state legislator, Bynum hailed that she was the chief sponsor of Oregon’s CHIPS Act that would bring billions of dollars worth of economic investment to Oregon and thousands of jobs.

GOP view: Chavez-DeRemer told us that the 5th District “is my seat to keep” when we asked what she made of the Democratic primary.

“I’ll take on whoever. We’ve done the hard work, built a good team, and I’ll take on whoever wins,” Chavez-DeRemer said.

— Max Cohen

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.