Retiring Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis was the leading vote-getter in the seven-way race for three seats on the Canby City Council, and longtime Clerk Sherry Hall appeared to have been decisively ousted after overseeing one of the worst election debacles in state history in the May primary in initial returns Tuesday night.
As midnight approached, many other races in Oregon remained too close to call, while nationwide, expectations of a “red wave” overtaking Congress were dampened by surprisingly strong Democratic turnout in one of the most hotly contested and anticipated midterm elections in recent memory.
Davis was the frontrunner in the first returns from Clackamas County shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m., with 2,188 votes (23.66%). Incumbent Councilor Shawn Varwig, seeking a second term, was second (1,493, 16.15%), and incumbent Councilor Greg Parker, seeking a fourth, was third (1,384, 14.97%).
Parker held a slim lead over newcomer Herman Maldonado (1,316, 14.23%), followed by incumbent Councilor Art Marine (1,207, 13.05%) and Craig Lewelling (1,064, 11.51%). Brad Clark was a distant seventh, with about 5% of votes cast. Mayor Brian Hodson, running unopposed, had no difficulty picking up a sixth two-year term.
Davis told the Current Wednesday that he was “very humbled” by voters’ support but would wait until more results were tabulated before speaking further.
“I’d say it’s looking pretty good, but there are still many votes to be counted,” Davis said. “But I am really proud and appreciative of the support that people are giving me so far. It’s very clear to me that the citizens want to see some change.”
In county races, Hall appeared to have been routed in her re-election bid against Catherine McMullen, a Clackamas County resident and elections supervisor in Multnomah County, with early returns giving the newcomer a nearly two-to-one advantage (66.04% to 33.75%).
McMullen celebrated with supporters and volunteers as the results rolled in Tuesday night and declared victory in a press release Wednesday morning, saying she is “ready to hit the ground running” when her term begins in January.
“Our people-powered campaign has worked incredibly hard to enact needed change to our county clerk’s office,” she said. “Your support will allow me to bring timely, accurate, and transparent elections to our county, and I am both humbled and thrilled that we have prevailed.”
Earlier in the week, and in a break from normal elections practice and earlier precedent, Hall’s office had announced it would not post updated results until 6 p.m. Wednesday — 22 hours after the initial drop.
But Tuesday afternoon, she backtracked for unexplained reasons, saying her division would post an update at 10:30. New results from Clackamas County were released shortly before 11.
Incumbent Commissioner Paul Savas also held a solid lead over his more progressive challenger, Libra Forde, 56.73% to 43.10%, while incumbent Sonya Fischer was in a near dead heat with Wilsonville City Councilor Ben West, a challenger running to her right, 50.26% to 49.56%.
Republican James Hieb, of Canby, was far ahead in his race to earn a full, two-year term serving the newly redrawn House District 52, with 63.5% of the vote over Democrat Walt Tandrum.
Republican Daniel Bonham was leading Democrat Raz Mason by about 10 points for Oregon Senate District 26, which includes Canby. Both Bonham and Mason are from The Dalles.
Canby resident and former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, GOP gubernatorial nominee hoping to be the first Republican to win the statewide office in 40 years, was narrowly trailing her Democrat opponent Tina Kotek in early results shortly before 11 p.m., with about 42% of returns tallied.
Addressing more than 600 supporters who had gathered at her campaign’s watch party at The Oregon Garden in Silverton around 11:30 p.m., Drazan remained confident of victory.
“We knew this was going to be a close race, and it turns out, it is,” Drazan said. “But we know that when the results are all counted and all of the results are in, we will, in fact, lead Oregon in a new direction. But we’re not there yet.”
She went on to thank her family, campaign staff, volunteers and supporters.
By Wednesday morning, with just under 50% of registered voters’ ballots received and tallied, Kotek had stretched her lead to more than 30,000 votes and two percentage points, and Drazan’s chances of victory appeared increasingly slim.
The Oregonian called the race for Kotek just before noon Wednesday, hailing Drazan’s effort as the “strongest Republican bid in a decade,” but finding she no longer had a path to victory with more than 80,000 ballots still to be tabulated from deep-blue Multnomah County, where voters had favored the former speaker by better than a 40-point margin.
The Associated Press, however, had not called the race as of 4:30 p.m., saying it was still too early. Drazan’s team continues to closely monitor returns and expects the results to tighten up, according to AP reports.
For federal races, the biggest upset appeared to have been captured by Republican candidate Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who held a sturdy, three-to-five-point lead throughout the night over progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Clackamas County.
The race suggested a miscalculation on the part of Democratic state leaders, who had redrawn Oregon’s congressional maps last year to give their party a slight edge in five of the Beaver State’s six districts.
But the strategy backfired in Oregon’s deeply purple 5th when McLeod-Skinner unseated longtime centrist Democrat Kurt Schrader by running to his left in the May primary.
Both women touted their bipartisan chops in events and ads leading up to Tuesday’s midterms, but evidently, the former Happy Valley mayor proved more convincing to the voters of the newly drawn, swingy 5th.
If the results hold, Chavez-DeRemer would be the first Republican to hold the seat since former Representative Darlene Hooley foiled incumbent Jim Bunn’s re-election bid in 1996.
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