Three candidates attempted to seize Democrat Kurt Schrader's (Canby) seat as U.S. representative for Oregon's 5th Congressional District in the Nov. 6 midterm election, but none succeeded. Schrader will continue for a sixth term.
"Obviously, you serve the district for a few years, and you'd like to think you're doing what people want you to do, and votes like this tonight, I'd like to think, are an indication that I'm representing this district very very well," Schrader said. "Makes you feel very good."
Republican Mark Callahan (Oregon City), Pacific Green Party candidate Marvin Sandnes (Salem) and Libertarian Dan Souza (Lincoln City) were the candidates who challenged Schrader for the 5th District, which includes Lincoln, Marion and Polk counties, most of Clackamas and Tillamook counties and parts of Benton and Multnomah counties.
Unofficial results of the Nov. 6 election show Schrader winning the district race with 176,584 votes, Callahan trailing him with 134,753 votes, Sandnes coming in with 4,089 votes, Souza with 5,055 votes and write-ins at 468 votes.
Schrader's primary competitor Callahan, though coming up short, was ultimately pleased with the results, and even called Schrader Wednesday morning to congratulate him.
"I feel really good about the results even though I didn't win," Callahan said. "I do feel good about the results. I'm the type of person, I make lemonade out of lemons, and I think 134,753 people isn't too shabby."
Callahan has previously ran for several offices, he confirmed, including that of President of the United States in 2012, when he made the ballot in two states. But now, Callahan said he plans to take a break to focus on his professional life and family, though he does plan to remain involved in local politics.
"I think I'm going to take a break in terms of major runs in politics," he said.
Another contender, Sandnes, had told voters outright that he wouldn't win during a candidate forum at Clackamas Community College Harmony campus; but he hoped to gather 6-8 percent of the vote this year to "freak out" the ruling parties. As of unofficial results, Sandnes did not get his wish, having won just 1.27 percent of the vote.
Souza was the youngest of the candidates—just 33 years old.
"I suppose I'd be considered 'young.' I'm 33," Souza said. "But that's what I think is missing from congress, is the 'average citizen,' specifically a young person, standing up and saying, 'I can lead.' "
Souza still hopes to lead someday. He confirmed he plans to run again, likely for U.S. Representative, and he plans to stay with the Libertarian party.
But in this race, the blue wave had already swept through Oregon, as four of Oregon's five congressional districts were filled by Democrats prior to the election. Along with Schrader, the incumbents from Oregon's four other districts also appear to have prevailed in their races, maintaining the 4-1 Democrat-dominant partisan ratio.
Both Oregon's Senate and House also gained a supermajority in the election.
The nation now joins Oregon's blue leaning. With this election, the Democrats appear to have won control of the House.
"With the House turning Democrat, hopefully it will be a nice balance of Republicans and Democrats and we move this country a little better forward," Schrader said.
In his previous terms in Congress, the retired farmer and veterinarian has successfully worked across party lines, and looking forward, he hopes to continue to do that and more.
"The biggest thing is making Congress work again," Schrader said, "trying to get past the partisanship and use my Problem Solvers group and the Blue Dogs, work with…the Republican side and make sure we pass legislation that reflects the diversity of this country.
"That would include stuff like infrastructure," Schrader continued. "I think it would be fixing the Affordable Care Act, healthcare, making sure that education is a priority and frankly making sure that rural Oregon has the same opportunity for jobs and prosperity that the Portlands of the country do."
This story has been updated.
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