UPDATE (6:50 p.m. PT) — It’s looking like Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler may be forced into a runoff against his leading opponent, Sarah Iannarone.

At 5 p.m., the Oregonian/OregonLive officially declared Iannarone, a community organizer, will be in a runoff against the mayor for the general election.

That was after the latest return from the Multnomah County Elections Division, which has been continuing to count votes the day after the primary. According to the division, they finished reporting the bulk of their votes around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

To avoid a runoff, Wheeler needed to claim just over 50% of the vote. He started Tuesday night at 8 p.m. with 51.47% of the vote. But the lead gradually dropped with each update from the Elections Division. The last returns from the county election office issued Wednesday had Wheeler at 49.38% and Iannarone at 23.85%.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, Iannarone’s campaign released a statement, saying she believed she’d officially forced a runoff.

“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,” the campaign statement said.

Iannarone told OPB she would be celebrating the apparent runoff by sleeping, something she said she struggled to do the night before with the mayor hanging so close to 50% threshold.

The mayor’s campaign released a statement of its own Wednesday evening, expressing disappointment at falling just short of the majority, but pointing out the mayor enjoyed the largest vote total by far. 

“We will finish this primary with a significant margin over any other candidate and will continue to monitor the returns as they are finalized in the next few days,” Wheeler’s campaign said.

Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone speaks on Election Night May 17, 2016.

Portland mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone speaks on Election Night May 17, 2016.

Nate Sjol/OPB