Politics

Oregon legislative races come into focus for the fall

By Chris M Lehman (KLCC)
May 23, 2022 12 p.m.

With Oregon’s May primaries in the rear-view mirror, legislative candidates who emerged victorious can turn their attention to the general election.

No incumbents lost their primary races. In fact, few even faced a primary opponent. There will be competition in most general election match-ups, however.

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Related: Oregon May 17 primary election results

But some primary winners don’t know yet if they’ll face anyone in November. That’s because elections officials don’t typically release the names of write-in votes until the elections are certified, which in this case, won’t be until mid-June.

Members of Oregon's House of Representatives meet, Friday, July 7, 2017.

Members of Oregon's House of Representatives meet, Friday, July 7, 2017.

Andrew Selsky/AP

For instance, in House District 9, which includes parts of western Lane and Douglas Counties, as well as northern Coos County, incumbent Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Reedsport, was the only candidate to file for the seat for either party.

Less than two weeks before the election, former Lane County Commissioner Jerry Rust announced a write-in campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the seat. Since no Democrats had filed to run in the district, Rust said he was attempting to counteract efforts by Wright to convince some Democrats to write his name in on the Democratic ballot.

That’s a tactic commonly employed by incumbents when no candidate has filed in the opposing party’s primary. If successful, it all but assures the incumbent of a general election victory, although occasionally third-parties also nominate candidates for legislative races.

In this case, more than 700 Democrats wrote in a name on the ballot in House District 9. More than half of those write-ins came in Lane County, and the County Clerk’s office said information about write-ins won’t be available until June 13. That means Wright doesn’t know yet who, if anyone, he’ll face in the fall. It could be the bulk of those names are for himself, or it could indicate that Rust’s effort to secure the nomination have been successful.

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