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Democrats Gain In Oregon Legislature

Oregon's state capitol in Salem.

Oregon’s state capitol in Salem.

Chris Lehman/OPB

Democrats are likely to add to their majorities in both the Oregon House and Senate after Tuesday’s election.

In Benton County, Democrat Sara Gelser defeated incumbent state Senator Betsy Close in District 8. Gelser left her House seat to challenge Close.

Senate President Peter Courtney fended off a challenge from veteran Republican Patti Milne in the mid-Willamette Valley.

And Republican Kim Thatcher successfully jumped from the House to the Senate in Marion County’s District. 13.

Two more incumbent Republican Senators, Bruce Starr in District 15 and Alan Olsen in District 20, are leading in races where ballots are still being counted. Even if both incumbents win, Democrats would have a 17-seat majority in the 2015 Legislature.

In the House, a handful of seats are still undecided, but Democrats could pick up one seat to add to their 34-seat majority.

The closest undecided race is in Marion County where Democrat Paul Evans holds a narrow lead over Republican Kathy Goss in the race to replace retiring Republican Vicki Berger in District 20.

Republicans picked up eight open seats, while Democrats won in six open districts.

Where races are undecided, Democratic incumbents are leading in many districts. District 11 incumbent Democrat Phil Barnhart holds a narrow lead over Republican challenger Andy Petersen. District 22 incumbent, Democrat Betty Komp, leads Republican challenger Matt Geiger.

Republican Jim Weidner, the incumbent in District 24, leads his Democratic challenger, Ken Moore.

In the Portland area, District 51 Democratic incumbent Shemia Fagan and District 52 Republican incumbent Mark Johnson hold narrow leads.

And in Bend, former Republican Secretary of State candidate Knute Buehler picked up the seat opened by Jason Conger¹s run for a Congressional seat.

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