UPDATE (Thursday, May 21, 7:27 a.m. PT) — With more than half a million votes counted in the race for the Democratic nominee for Oregon secretary of state, barely 2,100 votes separate the top two contenders.
According to numbers released Wednesday, state Sen. Shemia Fagan was leading Sen. Mark Hass. The Oregonian/OregonLive had called the race in Hass’ favor on Election Night, but the Beaverton-area lawmaker wasn’t ready to declare victory then.
“We’re just not there yet,” he told OPB. “It’s just too close to call.”
Fagan, who represents parts of east Portland, overtook Hass Wednesday evening.
With votes still uncounted in some parts of the state, and with coronavirus protections slowing down ballot counting, the race’s final outcome could still take some time.
“As county election workers continue to do the important work of counting ballots, we are seeing, in real-time, just how much power each and every vote has in our elections,” Fagan said in an email Wednesday evening.
“While the Secretary of State’s race remains too close to call, it is clear Oregonians set out to make their voices heard, even while facing an unprecedented pandemic,” said Fagan.
The race’s third-place competitor, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, was about 40,000 votes behind Fagan, according to Wednesday’s tally.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face another state senator: Republican Kim Thatcher of Keizer. She easily won the GOP primary Tuesday.
Portland mayor, council races head to runoff
It’s looking like Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iananrone will be in a runoff against incumbent Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. After the county’s elections division released its latest batch of results Wednesday showing Wheeler at 49.38% and Iannarone at 23.85%, the Oregonian/OregonLive officially declared it a runoff.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Iannarone’s campaign released a statement, saying she believed she was ready to take on the mayor in the general election.
“We are confident that we have everything we need to succeed in November when voter turnout will likely be much higher, the incumbent is forced to adhere to campaign finance laws, and many of the benefits he gained from pandemic begin to fade,” Iannarone said.
Those latest results also show Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly facing political scientist Mingus Mapps in a November runoff.
Eudaly captured 31.3% of the vote on Wednesday, with former city employee and political scientist Mingus Mapps at 28.5% and former Mayor Sam Adams trailing both of them with 27.7%.
In the race to occupy the seat formerly held by Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith will face former educational nonprofit executive Dan Ryan in an August runoff.
The field of 18 candidates vying to fill the remainder of Fish’s term was narrowed to Smith and Ryan on Wednesday. A runoff will be held on Aug. 11 and the winner will hold the seat until 2022.
Both Smith, who captured 18.8% of the vote as of Wednesday evening, and Ryan, with 16.6%, are familiar names in the region.
School tax measures meet mixed results
Out of seven school-related measures on Oregon ballots this spring, four passed. They include a $121.5 million bond to improve the Lane Community College campus.
The LCC bond is set to improve security and safety on campus and expand workforce training programs in the medical and technology fields.
Voters approved bonds for Centennial, Canby and Glendale schools.
Other districts weren’t so lucky, including Pendleton. Voters there rejected a 5-year levy that has passed every time it’s been on the ballot since 2000. The school district said the levy provides added funding to maintain services and reduce class size.
According to Umatilla County’s voter pamphlet, without the levy, “the district would not be able to continue to offer a comprehensive educational program or maintain current staffing levels.”
Douglas County voters rejected a bond for Roseburg Public Schools. And a bond to fund maintenance and facility improvements in the Harney County School District also failed.
A bond measure for Perrydale Schools was on the ballot, but in late April, the school board posted a message on Facebook saying they’d ask voters to approve the bond in November instead.
“Due to the obvious financial burden that has been placed on our community during this pandemic, we do not feel the timing is appropriate to ask taxpayers for this kind of funding,” the message read.
Centennial, Harney County, Perrydale, Canby and Roseburg all received a commitment of grant funding from the Oregon Department of Education.
Clackamas incumbent Bernard loses to returning Tootie Smith
For the second time in four years, Clackamas County is voting out its incumbent county chair and replacing him with a rival from the opposite end of the political spectrum.
According to early returns Tuesday night, challenger Tootie Smith was leading incumbent Jim Bernard, 52% to 47%. Smith is a conservative Republican who served on the Clackamas County board of commissioners from 2012 to 2016.
Bernard, a Democrat, rose to be Clackamas County chair after serving as a county commissioner and the mayor of Milwaukie.
Bernard won the 2016 race for county chair against Smith’s political ally, John Ludlow, after Smith and Ludlow had steered the Clackamas County commission in a more conservative direction.
Smith is poised to take over a commission with a few familiar faces, including Ken Humberston, who reached office in 2016 by defeating Smith.
Bentz wins congressional nomination
Republican Cliff Bentz won the primary Tuesday for his party’s nomination in Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, a GOP stronghold unlikely to flip for the Democrats in November.
This makes Bentz, a former state senator and attorney from Ontario, heir apparent to Rep. Greg Walden, who is retiring from Congress after 22 years. The election to replace Walden saw a large number of candidates hoping to capitalize on the rare opportunity.
Bentz served in the Oregon House for 12 years, before accepting an appointment to the state Senate in 2018. He stepped down earlier this year to run for Congress.
Metro area backs tax for homeless services
Early results show the passage of the Portland-area ballot measure looking to raise upwards of $250 million per year to support people experiencing homelessness.
Measure 26-210, referred to the ballot by Metro — the regionally elected government for Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties — will fund services including case management, rental assistance, addiction and mental health treatment.
The measure will enact two new taxes — a 1% marginal income tax on individuals earning more than $125,000 annually, or couples who earn more than $200,000, and a 1% tax on the profits of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $5 million.
Reform candidate Mike Schmidt wins Multnomah County DA race
Mike Schmidt, the executive director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, has taken the lead over assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon Ethan Knight in the race to be Multnomah County’s next top prosecutor.
The job of the district attorney is an especially powerful one, deciding who and which cases to prosecute, and establishing criminal justice policies. And being Oregon’s most populous county, the Multnomah County district attorney is also capable of influencing how justice is served statewide.
Mike Schmidt, who has built his campaign around using data to transform the office, is seen as the progressive candidate in this race. Schmidt oversaw the state’s implementation of data-driven justice reinvestment programs at the agency he leads. A win for him means the county will follow the nationwide trend of reformer district attorneys being elected into office.
Rubio to become the first Latina on Portland City Council
Carmen Rubio, the executive director of the Latino Network and former aide to a mayor and a city commissioner, has won a seat on the Portland City Council.
Rubio appeared headed to an easy victory in early returns Tuesday night. If the results hold, she’ll replace retiring Commissioner Amanda Fritz, becoming the second woman of color and the first Latina on the City Council.
Joe Biden wins Oregon presidential primary
Oregon Democrats have chosen former Vice President Joe Biden as their pick for the party’s nominee to face President Donald Trump.
Trump was the only candidate on the Republican primary ballot.
Oregon was the only state with a presidential primary Tuesday. Georgia and Kentucky moved their primaries because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Because of its late date, Oregon’s primary rarely plays a deciding role in the Democratic campaign.
Early turnout at 40%
The Oregon secretary of state reported more than 1.1 million people have voted in the May primary election, as of 7 p.m. Tuesday.
That’s more than 40% of registered voters according to election officials.
The pandemic primary
While 15 states delayed their primary elections to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Oregon’s continued as scheduled, largely thanks to vote-by-mail. Elections offices across the state are implementing safety measures in hopes of keeping the virus at bay while counting votes.
OPB has heard from voters across the state about what matters to them this primary season. Naturalized citizens make up a larger portion of the electorate. First-time voters prepare for their inaugural ballots. A low-tax enclave scrapes by for basic public services. And an Oregon swing county wonders where it will land this year.
Follow this page for updates on key races and find full, statewide results at the Oregon secretary of state website.