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PORTLAND, Ore. – Voters in Oregon and Washington sounded off on their election priorities both locally and nationally as the midterms approach.
“The farther left the better,” Sydney said in Bellingham, Washington, a city located about 20 miles south of the Canadian border.
But extreme candidates won’t appeal to voters like Jon, a Seattle resident whose priorities include preserving the Second Amendment as well as a woman’s right to have an abortion.
“I’m looking for a Holy Grail candidate,” he told Fox News while visiting Portland. “The Dems need to put up a more moderate candidate to get my vote and then the Republicans need to also do the same.”
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He also said he’s skeptical voters will find moderate candidates in Washington or Oregon, which he called “essentially one-party states.”
“A lot of Americans don’t want a collaborator or a moderate candidate anymore. They want someone who’s gung-ho and going to go full 100 and very emotional,” he said. “I think that makes our politics more dangerous.”
A three-way open-seat race for governor is bringing more competition to Oregon, which hasn’t elected a Republican to that office since 1982. In Washington, a first-time Republican candidate hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992.
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Brenda told Fox News she supports the Second Amendment but would like to see tougher gun control as Portland continues to deal with high numbers of shootings. There were 114 shooting incidents in the city in July, compared with 34 during the same month in 2019, according to police data.
“This is out of control,” Brenda said.
Amber, a Portland resident, said eco-friendly initiatives were her number one priority nationally.
“Understanding that global warming is real and aiming to make the initiatives that help push us in the right direction and kind of combat that,” she said.
But locally, safety was top of mind for Amber. She said she wants to see the city of Portland focus on making people “feel comfortable” downtown again.
Farther north in Bellingham, many people told Fox News they hadn’t started thinking about the election yet. Those who were planning to vote placed abortion rights, affordable housing and the environment among their top priorities.
Women’s rights have “been put kind of under attack, especially at the federal level with the Supreme Court and everything,” Francis said.
Election experts speculate the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could drive more Democratic voters to the polls, potentially threatening Republicans’ shot at taking control of Congress. Washington and Oregon both have state laws protecting abortion rights, but this week Sen. Lindsey Graham announced a federal bill to ban abortion after 15 weeks.
“It’s important locally to make sure that you focus on candidates that are going to support your beliefs … to hopefully have things go more to the federal level and just kind of be like a snowball effect,” Francis said.
Voters are also worried about housing costs, as rent and home prices continue to increase in the Pacific Northwest.
“It seems like with COVID when everyone started working remote, you got a lot of people from wealthier cities like Seattle that have a lot more high-paying jobs come into smaller communities” and drive up housing prices, Francis told Fox News.
The median home price in Washington was $560,400 in 2021, nearly double the price of a house just six years previously, according to state data. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic began, the median price of a home was just shy of $398,000.
Mary said she wished local legislators would address affordable housing and “unhoused issues” more aggressively. Nationally, she hopes Democrats retain control of the House and Senate even though she doesn’t consider herself a Democrat.
“I felt like there was a lot of the hatemongering that went on in the last Republican president’s term,” she said. “Not only BIPOC people but also people’s gender differences, and everybody was a loser if they didn’t love him.”
Kaelyn and Sydney said they hope to see more compassionate candidates elected.
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“Caring about like homeless, people of color, LGBTQ rights, people that have been kind of like pushed to the side forever,” Kaelyn said. “Making sure that every little step is taken to help those people out and work towards a better equilibrium.”
Keith was most concerned about term limits and said “it’s time for a revolution.”
“We’ve got to get the incumbents out and put new people in,” he said. “The House of Representatives is supposed to be replaced every two years. Why are they in the house for 30 years?”