Former Phoenix city manager Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a former Santa Clara, California, city councilor whose work ranged from refugee relief to planning for metropolitan governments, will seek the Democratic Party nomination for the 2nd District congressional seat held by Greg Walden, R-Hood River.
McLeod-Skinner has already informed Democratic Party organizations in the district of her intent to run in 2018. A formal announcement with details on her campaign organization will be made next week over the internet, she said.
Walden has not been responsive to local issues and is more focused on Washington, D.C. politics, the candidate said. McLeod-Skinner joins a growing field of candidates who may view Walden as vulnerable due to his involvement in Republican efforts to craft a health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
“I think there will be backlash because of so many people being hurt by the reductions in health care,” said McLeod-Skinner. “Folks in office need to know when to step in and when to get out of the way. He has failed on both measures.”
McLeod-Skinner was Phoenix city manager from November 2016 until March when she was fired by a 3-2 City Council vote. She was a planner at two governments in the Santa Clara Valley from 2003 to 2012. From 1996 to 1998, she was a reconstruction and program manager in Bosnia and Kosovo and led a Lutheran refuge services organization from 2000 to 2002. She is an Ashland High School graduate.
A trend Ashland political consultant Cathy Shaw found in recent research for a book will make it difficult to unseat Walden, she said. Since 2008, voters registered in either party don’t swing to candidates of the other. If they are unhappy with their party’s candidate, they just don’t vote, said Shaw.
“It’s just a huge hill to climb. Oregonians love incumbents. People on the Democratic side under-vote, they don’t vote on Greg Walden’s side,” said Shaw. “In this instance, you have everyone who is really upset wanting to get after Greg Walden, but Democrats have an eight to 10 percent disadvantage.”
District voter registration is 36 percent Republican, 27 percent Democrat, and the remainder is non-affiliated or third party.
A life-long Democrat, McLeod-Skinner says she is socially progressive and fiscally conservative
“He has not been supportive of local solutions. Things like the Klamath Basin restoration agreement. That’s a good example of a wide spectrum of interests … coming to a political solution,” said McLeod-Skinner. “He didn’t support it, and it died in Congress. He would not carry it out.”
Jim Crary of Ashland, who was crushed by Walden in 2016 by 72 to 28 percent, will seek the nomination again. Others noted by media sources as seeking the nomination are Michael Byrne of Parkside, and Rachel Scdoris-Salerno of Bend.
McLeod-Skinner will split time between Ashland and Terrebonne, a community north of Redmond where her mother lives, as she travels the district.
Most of the district lies east of the Cascade Mountains, with the exception of Jackson County. McLeod-Skinner has ties to Eastern Oregon through her mother, a sister who works in Bend and her spouse’s family, which has ranched there for 100 years. While at the University of Oregon Law School, she worked on water issues in Klamath County.
— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.