[The Mercury Election Strike Force is News Editor Courtney Vaughn, News Reporter Taylor Griggs, Arts & Culture Editor Suzette Smith, and Editor-in-Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey. We do not endorse in uncontested races. Oh and by the way, putting these endorsements together takes LOTS of hard work—and that's on top of our regular excellent reporting. Show your appreciation for the Mercury with a small contribution, please, and thank you!—eds]

Congressional Races

US Representative, 1st District: Suzanne Bonamici

A former consumer protection attorney, Suzanne Bonamici’s Congressional tenure began in 2012. She’s won each re-election bid since then, and there’s good reason for that.

Bonamici, who currently serves on the Committee for Education and Workforce, as well as the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, prides herself on policies that prioritize the wellbeing of the working class, families, and children. She’s also been a watchdog for her most vulnerable constituents. Most recently, she partnered with two other legislators to introduce a bill that would crack down on predatory debt collectors. 

You’ll also find her name attached to bills that strengthen the arts, secure worker protection, prioritize affordable housing and child nutrition, and work to tackle a national nursing shortage. Bonamici has also proven diligent in bringing important federal funding back to Oregon.

Nearly everything the congresswoman has done over the past 12 years has been geared toward improving lives. That said, Bonamici is a bit of an establishment candidate in the Democratic Party. At worst, her legislation can be milquetoast and ineffective, and Bonamici isn’t one to push back on her party’s agenda.

Her recent vote to approve a foreign military aid package that included funds for Israel disappointed many people in her district. Bonamici defended her decision, noting she previously rejected legislation because it included no humanitarian assistance for Palestinians.

She’s adamant that Israel is still an important US ally, but says she’s putting pressure on President Biden to hold Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accountable, and to push for a permanent cease-fire that would bring hostages home and help rebuild Gaza.

“I would have preferred to vote for a bill that included only defensive and humanitarian aid, but that was not the bill that was before us,” Bonamici said in a statement her office released last month. “All countries that receive U.S. military aid, including Israel, must abide by international law. I have conveyed the importance of that requirement to the Biden Administration and will continue to do so going forward.”

No politician is perfect, and Bonamici won’t woo every liberal voter, but we can count on her to protect fundamental values like reproductive freedom, protections for trans kids, workers’ rights, and the right for unhoused people to exist without being punished for having nowhere to go.

In this race, she’s our best bet.

US Representative, 3rd District: Susheela Jayapal 

The current US rep in the 3rd District, Earl Blumenauer, is Portland's staple politician, having served in the role since 1996. And he's going to be a tough act to follow—I mean, we named a bike and pedestrian bridge after the guy. But with Blumenauer retiring, a lot of local Democrats are vying for his seat, many of them with strong credentials. But we're going with Susheela Jayapal, the former Multnomah County commissioner who is both progressive and politically pragmatic, and who we trust will be a voice for forward movement—not murky centrist stagnation. 

Jayapal served on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners from 2019 until late last year, when she dropped out to be the first to announce her candidacy for this race. As a commissioner, Jayapal was an advocate for racial justice, housing and eviction prevention, environmental issues, and more. 

We were particularly impressed with Jayapal for her bravery and swiftness in calling for a cease-fire in Gaza last November—a move many so-called liberal politicians remain unwilling to make. More Jayapal pros: She's signaled her support for a Green New Deal, bolstering reproductive rights (Jayapal got an abortion when she was younger and has been open with her story), pushing for a single-payer health system, taxing corporations at a higher rate, and demanding more robust rights for trans and LGBTQ folks. Jayapal also has a history of "walking the walk": As an attorney, Jayapal would often represent immigrants applying for asylum (pro bono), and later as a county commissioner, helped low-income residents secure long-term rent assistance—a pivotal step in addressing the homeless crisis.

Jayapal's strongest competitors include state Rep. Maxine Dexter, Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales, and small business attorney Michael Jonas—all of whom are fine progressives in their own right. We were particularly enamored with Jonas, an enthusiastic candidate who helps new entrepreneurs navigate the often tricky legal waters of starting and maintaining businesses through his firm Rational Unicorn Legal Services, who we hope to see in future races, perhaps on a more local level. In short: Vote Jayapal, and if you're a 3rd District resident, count yourself lucky to live in a place that boasts so many passionate, qualified candidates.

US Representative, 5th District: Janelle Bynum

Guys... here's job one: Getting rid of the current congresswoman in the 5th District, Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who squeaked out a victory over Jamie McLeod-Skinner in November 2022. Currently the two best Democrats running against Chavez-DeRemer are (once again) Jamie McLeod Skinner and Janelle Bynum, a member of the Oregon House of Representatives in the 39th district. So why are we pulling for Bynum? While McLeod-Skinner is a great, qualified candidate, as mentioned earlier, Republican Chavez-DeRemer (who is endorsing Trump, just so ya know) beat McLeod-Skinner the last time around, and frankly, this is not the time to take chances. McLeod-Skinner also has some baggage surrounding allegations of using abusive language toward, and retaliating against, former staffers during her last campaign. However, Bynum has baggage of her own, and we are less than pleased with her support of continued funding to Israel, despite their military murdering 34,000 Palestinians (as of this writing.) If that's a deal-breaker for you... we get it.

But baggage aside, there is this indisputable fact: Janelle Bynum has not only beaten Republican Chavez-DeRemer twice before in 2016 and 2018 for an Oregon House seat, she led the House Committee on Equitable Policing, vows to defend abortion and voting rights, and has loads of endorsements from a laundry list of influential leaders including Gov. Tina Kotek, who Bynum tried to unseat as House Speaker in 2021... which says a lot about Bynum's ability to buck the system when she needs to. Chavez-DeRemer should've never been given the 5th District in the first place, and for our money, electing Bynum is a solid way to flip it back to blue.

[Want to see all the Mercury's endorsements in one convenient place? Check out our handy-dandy Voter Cheat Sheet! Reminder that election day is May 21, and mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than May 21 in order to be counted. Here are your local ballot drop locations.