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Susheela Jayapal loses Congressional race, calls for campaign finance reform

NRI PULSE STAFF REPORT

May 23, 2024: Susheela Jayapal, 62, lost her first bid for Congress from Oregon’s third district. She was defeated by State Representative Maxine Dexter, a physician. In a statement, Jayapal expressed pride in her campaign and called for changes in how elections are funded.

“I just called and extended my congratulations to Maxine Dexter on her election to represent Oregon’s Third Congressional District,” she said.

Jayapal said her campaign was built on values like integrity, commitment, and justice. She envisioned a district and country where everyone is treated equally and with respect. “We were clear, from the beginning, that we were going to run a campaign based on values and on our vision for the country and the district,” she said.

“I am so proud of running a campaign in which people who have never before felt included, did. A campaign in which those who have felt on the margins, weren’t just at the table – were running the table,” Jayapal said.

Jayapal once again called for campaign finance transparency. “This race showed so clearly why we need to have real campaign finance reform that allows for public financing. Outside super PACs came in and spent an unprecedented $6M, even timing their contributions so that they wouldn’t have to show who was trying to buy this election until well after the votes were cast,” she said. “While we weren’t able to change that fact this time around, I remain committed to working to make our elections truly democratic. There is so much work to be done. And I will continue that work.”

Susheela Jayapal is the older sister of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Earlier this month, through a joint statement with commissioner Eddy Morales who was also running for the seat, Jayapal had accused her opponent Dexter of hypocrisy. “Voters deserve to know who is trying to buy this seat for a centrist candidate who doesn’t even live in the district.”

The 314 Action Fund, a group that supports Democrats with a background in science, has spent $1.66 million to support Dexter. “This is by far the largest spender in this race, its largest investment in a primary to date, and one of the largest investments by the group, ever,” the statement said.

“Maxine Dexter claims to be for transparency in politics, but she and 314 Action are engaged in a dishonest and cynical ploy to obscure the donors propping up her campaign until just one day before the primary,” the joint statement had alleged.

“We should all be united behind the need for clean and transparent elections and should decry the use of MAGA money in a Democratic primary.”

Jayapal and Morales had called for Maxine Dexter to immediately call on her dark money backers to disclose their donors for April.

314 Action did not have to report their April donors until May 20th, the day before the primary, significantly hamstringing Oregon voters’ education, the candidates claimed.

The Intercept, a non-profit that investigates individuals and entities to expose corruption, recently claimed that Jayapal is being targeted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which is secretly funneling money into the race through 314 Action.

“The pro-Israel community telegraphed its intent to target Jayapal early on, primarily for suspicion that her politics on Israel–Palestine may align with her younger sister Pramila Jayapal’s, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who called for a ceasefire early in the current war on Gaza,” the report said.

Cover photo: Susheela Jayapal campaign’s Facebook page.

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