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Stephen Sirkin: Remember the razor-thin margin Democrats have in Congress this year

A number of recent "Readers' Letters" spoke out in opposition to Congressman Kurt Schrader and in support of his opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Let me say up front that I am a strong supporter of Congressman Schrader. I've had multiple opportunities to spend time with him throughout his time in Congress and have appreciated his no nonsense, direct and thoughtful approach to government and life. At the same time, I am not of the mind to speak negatively of Ms. McLeod-Skinner. In fact, in a different district, I would likely be supporting her candidacy.

Curiously, their educational backgrounds overlap, both having received degrees from Cornell University. She moved on to Harvard and eventually a law degree, he became a doctor of veterinary medicine. He served a combined dozen years in Oregon's House and Senate before being elected to Congress in 2008. Her efforts toward elective office include unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in 2018 and secretary of state in 2020.Stephen Sirkin

In this race it is critical to provide an historical perspective. Congressman Schrader is indeed a "Blue Dog Democrat" and active in the "Problem Solvers Caucus" that seeks to foster bipartisan cooperation on key policy issues, something badly missing in Congress and our national debate. Back in 2010 there was a concerted effort by progressive Democrats to replace Blue Dogs with their own. In partisan primaries a large number were successful but, when it came to general elections in districts with strong conservative leanings, such as the new 5th district, Republicans were overwhelmingly elected. That year it meant a loss of 33 Democratic seats formerly held by Blue Dog Democrats. Instead of moving Congress into the progressive camp, it did quite the opposite, giving the Republicans control. With the razor-thin margin Democrats have in Congress this year, this is one seat they cannot afford to lose.

In addition, a Schrader loss would result in the third Oregonian with substantial seniority in Congress, following DeFazio's retirement and Walden's departure, further weakening Oregon's power in that body.

As for the concerns individuals have raised regarding Congressman Schrader's votes or positions, I suggest speaking to him directly. Participate in one of his regular town hall meetings, reach out to his website at schrader.house.gov or speak with him in person. I believe you will appreciate his candor and better understand the positions he has taken without the partisan political lens that so often demonizes individuals. At that point you will be in a better position to judge the man and make up your own mind.

Stephen Sirkin is a Happy Valley resident.


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