It’s late as I write this, and there are a still a few races that are too close to call, but this much is already clear: Democrats won big, in Oregon and around the country.
Barack Obama, the president elect, took the state by around 14%. Democrat John Kroger will be the next Attorney General. Kurt Schrader handily won the fifth congressional district. Democrats Kate Brown and Ben Westlund look likely to take, respectively, the offices of Secretary of State and Treasurer.
What’s more, Democrats seem to have won a commanding lead in the Oregon House, with more than enough seats to reach their supermajority goal.
In Washington, Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire held off a spirited challenge from Republican Dino Rossi, and Initiative 1000, modeled on Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, was approved by voters.
All four of Oregon’s legislative referrals — including Measure 57, the Legislature’s response to Kevin Mannix’s mandatory minimum measure — passed. (Mannix’s measure, number 61, is too close to call at this point.) Bill Sizemore didn’t fare too well last night, losing four of his five measures. Only Measure 64, which would prohibit the use of public resources to collect money for political purposes, hangs in the balance.
Measure 65, the “top-two” primary, failed.
As for the closest — and most closely watched — race in Oregon, between Republican Sen. Gordon Smith and Speaker of the Oregon House Jeff Merkley, it’s officially too close to call at the time of writing (1:26 AM). But with the lion’s share of votes still to be counted from Democratic-heavy Multnomah and Lane counties, Merkley seems poised for a narrow victory.
So. What surprised you last night — or confirmed your greatest fears, or hopes? What races, or bond measures, or levies, flew below the radar on an Obama-centric night? Bill Lunch remarked last night that political fortunes are cyclical, and that soon enough the Republican party will return to power. Do you agree? How long will it take? Or do you think we’re watching a more profound statewide political realignment?
And, most broadly, where does our state — and our country — go from here?