Politics

Congressional races stay tight in Oregon, Southwest Washington

By Troy Brynelson (OPB), Joni Auden Land (OPB) and Ryan Haas (OPB)
Nov. 10, 2022 2:41 a.m.

Narrow leads in the three congressional races could grow or shrink with each passing update. Trailing candidates hold out hope their supporters will show up big in late counts.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez stands outside of her small Portland business, Dean's Car Care, which she owns with her husband on June 30th, 2022. Gluesenkamp-Perez, a Democrat, is a candidate for Washington's 3rd Congressional District.

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez stands outside of her small Portland business, Dean's Car Care, which she owns with her husband on June 30th, 2022. Gluesenkamp-Perez, a Democrat, is a candidate for Washington's 3rd Congressional District.

Jenna Deml / OPB

No clear winners emerged from several tight congressional races in Oregon and Washington, even after election workers counted tens of thousands more ballots on Wednesday.

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The story remains one of narrow leads that could grow or shrink with each update over the coming days. Trailing candidates hold out hope their supporters will show up big in late counts to stage comebacks.

The races for Oregon’s 5th and 6th congressional districts and Washington’s 3rd are each within a few thousand votes with many more left to count. With U.S. House races across the country coming to their ends, these will be watched closely as both parties vie for the majority in Congress.

Washington 3rd District

In Southwest Washington, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez kept a modest lead over Donald Trump-endorsed Joe Kent. Her campaign has been optimistic it can flip the district, which has been held by Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler for more than a decade.

The auto shop owner and Skamania County resident leads Kent by 5.3 percentage points, amounting to about 11,000 votes. At least 80,000 ballots across the district have yet to be counted.

Neither campaign made a statement Wednesday night.

Kent, a career soldier-turned-politician who lives in Yacolt, has been the heavy favorite. He ran an unflinching “America First” campaign headlined by strict immigration policies and ambitions to cut any perceived overreach by the federal government.

Joe Kent, at his home in Yacolt, Wash., Sept. 29, 2021. Kent, a Republican, is running for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

Joe Kent, at his home in Yacolt, Wash., Sept. 29, 2021. Kent, a Republican, is running for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

After Kent’s primary upset of Herrera Beutler, national prognosticators predicted he had a clear advantage in the district, which Trump won by four points in 2020.

Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign has tried to steer into the political middle. They courted many of Herrera Beutler’s former Republican supporters, who view Kent as too extreme. That helped her raise significant money late in the campaign, even as national Democratic organizations largely ignored her.

Still, Kent’s campaign iterated Tuesday night they believe later-arriving ballots will skew in their favor. Kent has cast doubt on Washington’s vote-by-mail system and advised supporters to vote in-person and near Election Day.

In Clark County, the most populous county in the district, ballots that arrived after Monday have not yet been counted, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey told OPB. He said he didn’t expect those ballots to post until Thursday.

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Oregon 5th District

In central Oregon, Republican candidate Lori Chavez-DeRemer maintained her narrow, 3% lead over Democratic candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Election officials have counted about 70% of the vote.

How long it will take for a winner to be declared remains unclear. Deschutes County Clerk Steven Dennison told OPB his office expects thousands of mail-in ballots to still arrive in the coming days, and that it’s difficult to know how that could impact any race.

Ballots counted so far show the two candidates are neck-and-neck in Deschutes and Clackamas counties, the district’s largest population centers. Chavez-DeRemer’s commanding lead in more rural areas of Linn and Marion counties is giving her the edge thus far.

On Tuesday night, McLeod-Skinner similarly held out hope that she can overcome the deficit with more Democratic votes to be counted later in the process.

Chavez-DeRemer was slightly favored going into Election Day, with many experts eyeing the district as a potential pick-up for House Republicans. The 5th District has been vastly redrawn, and now encompasses a more even split along party lines..

If elected, Chavez-DeRemer could be the first Latina to represent Oregon in Congress. Chavez-DeRemer’s campaign has remained silent since results started pouring in Tuesday night, however. As of Wednesday, the campaign has not granted interviews with the media and has not made any social media posts about the results.

Oregon 6th District

And in Oregon’s newest district, Democrat Andrea Salinas maintained a slight lead in unofficial returns over Republican businessman Mike Erickson.

Salinas held a roughly 2 percentage point lead as votes for Oregon’s 6th Congressional District continued to be tallied Wednesday. Salinas has garnered just south of 50% of the total vote, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

Constitution Party candidate Larry McFarland may end up playing a factor in the race, as unofficial results currently show him with around 2% of the ballots cast.

Whoever wins will become the first representative of the new district, which covers counties on the western side of the Willamette Valley. Like Chavez-DeRemer, Salinas could become the first Latina to represent the state in Congress if elected.

Salinas ran a campaign focused on reducing health care costs and supporting workers’ rights.

Erickson honed in on inflation and immigration as key issues.

Though votes are still being counted, county level results showed Erickson leading the race in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, while Salinas had a sizeable advantage in Washington County and led in Clackamas County.

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How Oregon Dungeness crab make the journey from sea to table.
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