Top progressive member’s sister LOSES primary in Oregon despite The Squad’s backing: Alarm bells for far-left candidates across the country in key takeaways from primaries

Maxine Dexter easily won the Democratic primary in Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, defeating progressive member Pramila Jayapal’s sister and raising alarms among far-left candidates across the country.

Susheela Jayapal ran as a progressive champion in the race to fill the seat vacated by retiring Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer in a district that includes much of Portland.

Dexter, a state representative and physician, won the primary with a double-digit margin of 51 percent to Jayapal’s 29 percent. A third candidate in the race Eddy Morales received 14 percent.

Jayapal, who previously served as a county commissioner, received the support of several progressive members in Congress known as the “Squad,” including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Jamaal Bowman.

She also received the support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Susheela Jayapal (left) with sister Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal of Washington

The winner of the Democratic primary is favored to win the seat in the heavily Democratic-leaning district in November.

All three candidates for the Democratic primary had very similar positions on most issues and described themselves as progressive. But their disagreements came down to how they pitched their approach to the work and possible outside spending.

Jayapal was elected to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in 2018, but she resigned last year to run for Congress.

While serving, she spent much of her time dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and worsening homelessness in her county. The Oregonian editorial board criticized her for not providing more forceful direction to the local government body.

Maxine Dexter (left) and Susheela Jayapal (right) participate in a debate on April 11, 2024

Maxine Dexter (left) and Susheela Jayapal (right) participate in a debate on April 11, 2024

Susheela Jayapal (left) with her sister Rep.  Jayapal on campaign

Susheela Jayapal (left) with her sister Rep. Jayapal on campaign

Dexter ran for consensus building and touted her ability to reach across the aisle in the Oregon State Legislature, where she focuses on housing and addressing homelessness.

As she trailed both of her opponents in fundraising, outside groups unaffiliated with her campaign spent more than $3 million on ads supporting her in the race, while another $3 million was spent on anti-Jayapal ads according to tracking by Ad Impact.

In a statement admitting it, Jayapal congratulated Dexter on her win. She also boosted outside spending in the race and called for campaign finance reform.

Across the country, progressive candidates, including Squad members, are facing challengers as some more moderate Democrats argue they would be more successful if they get results in Washington.

But the results of such efforts are yet to be seen.

In Pennsylvania, Rep. Summer Lee last month fended off a major challenger in the district that includes much of Pittsburgh.

Michigan’s Tlaib also comfortably won her primary in a safely blue district in March, despite spending from pro-Israel groups.

Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman in New York face their own primary challengers. The upcoming primaries include Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri and Omar of Minnesota, who will face primary challengers later this summer.