Oregon 3rd District
Portland, the Rose City set between Mount Hood to the east and the Tualatin Mountains to the west, spans the Willamette River and keeps its industrial back to the Columbia. Still one of America’s least-known major cities, it’s also one of its most distinctive. For most of its history Portland was a prosaic city, a blue-collar town that piled Oregon lumber and Oregon pears into freight cars or unloaded machines from back East or automobiles from Japan on its docks. But in the past three decades, Portland has been transformed. Out on the Pacific Rim, it increasingly makes its living on foreign trade with Asia. It has become a home to high-tech industries, particularly in the Silicon Forest suburbs. Government has also produced change. Oregon’s land-use act, passed in 1973, required local governments to set geographic limits on growth. Metro, the regional government established in 1979 just as growth was accelerating, is a counterweight against the endless population spread outward into former farmland. With gentrification in the city, old neighborhoods have been revived with new names: “NoPo” refers to north Portland. With its first light-rail service, Portland encouraged the development of high-density commercial space and housing around transit stops. Bicycle paths wind throughout the metropolitan area, and downtown, west of the Willamette River, boasts postmodern structures amid classic masonry buildings. Portland in fact is the nation’s most bicycle-friendly large city, with the highest percentage of bike commuters. Local leaders now are seeking to make Portland the nation’s leader for biodiesel and other renewable fuels.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
In the process, the central city of Portland, like San Francisco and Seattle, has attracted political and cultural liberals. And, like those two cities, Portland has its share of traffic congestion and high home prices. Earlier in the decade, Money magazine rated it among the most livable cities, but its standing has since declined. For a time, the metropolitan region had one of the country’s highest unemployment rates, due partly to the dot-com bust and perhaps exacerbated by excessive controls on growth. Money dropped Portland from its top-100 list in 2006. Still, growth has continued despite the national economic downturn in 2008.
The 3rd Congressional District of Oregon includes the large part of Portland and Multnomah County east of the Willamette River and some of suburban Clackamas County to the south. It extends over plains and hills to the exquisite scenery of Mount Hood high in the Cascades and Bonneville Dam in the Columbia River Gorge. Politically, it remains dominated by cultural liberalism, which sets Portland apart from its suburbs and the rest of Oregon. In 2004, Multnomah County voted 72%-27% for John Kerry over George W. Bush, and in 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain in Multnomah, 77%-21%.