Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer appeared to be leading Oregon’s tightest congressional race, one that could help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, according early returns in Tuesday’s general election.

The 5th Congressional District race between Happy Valley Republican Chavez-DeRemer and Terrebonne Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner went back and forth as results dripped in from six different counties throughout the evening. The first returns, all from Multnomah County, showed McLeod-Skinner leading, but Chavez-DeRemer began to take the lead as results came in from more rural counties. The Republican had about 52% of the vote to McLeod-Skinner’s 47% as of 10:30 p.m.

Wearing her signature purple collared shirt, McLeod-Skinner hugged her wife, Cass McLeod-Skinner, as the pair watched initial returns roll in just after 8 p.m. on a screen at Silver Moon Brewing, where about 100 Deschutes County Democratic candidates and supporters were gathered for an election night celebration.

McLeod-Skinner, who would be Oregon’s first openly LGBTQ member of Congress, told The Bulletin after the initial results came in that she was waiting for more votes to be counted before coming to any conclusions. She expressed gratitude for the support she found on the campaign trail.

“It’s very humbling, but people have been just really excited about this vision we’ve laid out of bringing people together to address the challenges that we’re facing, and that’s the job,” McLeod-Skinner said. “And I would be honored to do that job for Oregonians, and that’s really what I think voters want.”

Chavez-DeRemer, who would be Oregon’s first Latina in Congress if elected, did not respond by press time  to multiple requests for comment.

Tuesday’s general election was the first for the newly redrawn 5th District, which stretches from the outskirts of the Portland metro area, skirting around Salem south to Albany and east over the Cascades to include a small swath of Central Oregon, from Terrebonne to Sunriver.

The race for the new district was blown open after the May primary, when McLeod-Skinner, an attorney and emergency coordinator, defied expectations and ousted incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader, a conservative Democrat who had President Joe Biden’s endorsement. McLeod-Skinner ran as a progressive alternative to Schrader, who drew criticism for his lack of support for some Democratic priorities.

Chavez-DeRemer, a business owner and former Happy Valley mayor, handily beat four other candidates in the May primary. Her general election attracted support from national Republican campaign organizations, which saw the seat as one vulnerable to being flipped due to McLeod-Skinner’s liberal bent.