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Mayor Mark Gamba Bows Out Of The Kurt Schrader Race-- But That's Only Half The Story

Blue America endorsed Mark Gamba's grassroots campaign for Congress in 2020, not just because he would make a great member of Congress-- he surely would-- but also because he was running against one of the worst members of Congress, corrupt conservative Kurt Schrader, a Blue Dog and Pfizer heir who represents Oregon's 5th district. I asked Mayor Gamba to explain why he decided not to run again this cycle, even though Schrader had gotten even worse that he has been in the past. Is still one of the most viable opportunities to oust a Blue Dog before a Republican does. Read what Mark has to say and please consider contributing what you can to Jamie McLeod-Skinner's campaign here.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner For Congress

-by Mark Gamba

Kurt Schrader is the worst kind of cynical, privileged, lying, sold out political hack there is, and that’s putting it nicely. He and his big pharma corporate masters have been blanketing his district with ads extolling his virtues for keeping drug prices low. In reality he and his ilk have gutted the ability for the Federal Government to do what every other country in the world already does for their citizens: negotiate drug prices so that big pharma doesn’t drive them into bankruptcy just trying to survive.

He has always been in the pocket, and at the beck and call, of big pharma, the fossil fuel giants, wall street timber companies and more. He happily votes to expand the military industrial complex at every turn and give tax breaks to himself and his fellow millionaires, and yet he has the unmitigated audacity to call himself a Democrat. He and his ilk are the reason that so many good people are leaving the Democratic party in droves. He and his ilk are why so many young people are so disgusted by politics they just don’t vote. They feel hopeless.

The worst part is that he calls himself a climate champion while co-sponsoring bills that give even MORE taxpayer dollars to the fossil fuel industry for the next 10 years and then requires some nominal reduction in GHG thereafter. 10 years? At that point it won’t matter. He knows that, his fossil fuel masters know that, but in their wealthy privilege they just don’t care. They assume that their wealth will protect them.

All of this is why, as a small-town mayor, I was driven to run against him in the last cycle. Bad timing on my part. There hasn’t been a worse year to run a grass root, door knocking campaign in the history of the country. Pandemics have a way of shutting those down. I was planning to run against him again once we knew what Oregon’s new congressional districts looked like. While doing my due diligence, I learned that my friend Jamie McLeod-Skinner was also thinking about it. We put our heads together and I told her early in the conversation, I don’t care if it’s you or me, but one of us has to beat Schrader. Through careful consideration I decided that not only does Jamie have a better shot than me, she has a great shot at beating him.

Here are just a few of the reasons: When she ran against Greg Walden in one of the reddest congressional districts in the country in 2016, she raised well over a million dollars and came closer to beating him, by a long shot, than anyone ever has. When she ran (and barely lost) for Secretary of State in 2018 she dramatically won the new portion of the new 5th congressional district. She is exceedingly popular in Bend, which is now 30% of the new district. Schrader is nobody to them. Her electoral superpower is that she can speak to people from all walks of life and all political stripes and help them understand the greatest issues of our time and what the solutions are.

So, I would like to introduce my friend Jamie McLeod-Skinner to those that may not know her yet.

She spent her formative years in Tanzania with her mom who was hired to teach there, she came back to the states when she was 15 and graduated high school in Ashland Oregon. She has a degree in civil engineering, a masters in planning from Cornell and a law degree from the University of Oregon. She also attended the Harvard Executive Program and another at Oxford! So, she’s got educational chops. And what did she do with all those prestigious degrees? Did she go after the big bucks? Nope, her adult life has been about service. She worked for an international rescue NGO repairing schools and hospitals in the part of Bosnia that wasn’t very popular to be an American. She worked in Kosovo building water and sanitation systems in rural areas. She worked resettling refugees in Santa Clara, oh, and while doing that she served two terms on the city council. So a mythic level of service to others and solid local government experience to boot, (something I personally think should be required for any congressperson). There’s more, but I want to get to what she believes in and what drives her to run for Congress.

She is clear that stopping the worst effects of Climate Chaos has to be job one. If we don’t solve that, nothing else will matter in 50 years. She will also be working to help those that have already had their lives destroyed by climate chaos, like she did when she worked in southern Oregon very recently helping folks rebuild housing after they lost everything in catastrophic, climate driven wildfires. Her understanding of how bad it could get is visceral, which will make her an uncompromising champion.

She is well aware that America is the only industrialized nation on the planet without universal health care and a national health care system. One of the many reasons we failed so badly to protect our people during the pandemic. She understands that the Medicare for All bill is an outstanding solution and will join others in Congress fighting for it.

She is well aware of the destructive nexus of low wages and skyrocketing housing costs. She will work to solve that issue from both ends. She is clear that $15 an hour isn’t even high enough in many parts of this country.

She knows that we must engage in good governance and fix the campaign finance laws, voters rights and gerrymandering that are destroying our democracy.

She believes that we should have the best educated populace in the world and that to do that we need to create a debt free system to provide those opportunities especially to the most vulnerable of us.

To put it bluntly, she is, as anyone is, with their head screwed on straight, a solid progressive that will work for the people and the planet. Otherwise, I would not be throwing my full support behind her.

She also won’t be taking fossil fuel, pharma, military industrial complex or wall street timber money, so we will all have to dig a little deeper and give more than we can comfortably afford, to replace, arguably the worst democrat in congress with another in the growing ranks of level headed, forward thinking, problems solving progressives in Congress.

Let’s make Jamie Mcleod-Skinner, the next congresswoman for Oregon’s 5th Congressional district.


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