In a surprising shift, the race for the fourth seat on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners flipped late Friday afternoon, thrusting newcomer Mark Shull ahead of incumbent Ken Humberston, who had been seeking a second term.
In the early returns Tuesday night, Humberston held what appeared to be a commanding lead, nearly 10 points ahead of his challenger. But that lead had shrunk steadily throughout the week, and in the nearly final tally Friday, Shull emerged on top.
In the almost-final tally, Shull was the one with the (seemingly) insurmountable, collecting 92,264 votes (50.65%) to Humberston’s 89,083 (48.91%).
The 5,000 or so ballots that remain uncounted were ones that were either rejected by the machine and will need to be duplicated, or have signature issues awaiting resolution.
Under Oregon law, voters have until Nov. 17 to resolve signature issues and still have their ballots counted in the final total.
Shull is a retired military officer and small business owner, having served 25 years in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and earning a Bronze Star during a tour of duty in Iraq.
He ran on a reform platform opposing new taxes and encroachment from Portland and the Metro regional government.
Humberston had been the leading vote-getter amongst himself, Shull and Breeauna Sagdal in the May primary, but had not cleared the 50% mark that would have spared him a November runoff.
“It’s disappointing, obviously. No one likes to lose an election,” Humberston told the Current Friday. “But it is what it is. I understand the will of the voters — I always have — and I’ll find something else to do.”
Returns in Clackamas County have suggested a surprising trend of more conservative-leaning voters casting their ballots closer to Election Day.
Similar trends have been seen on the national stage, where ballots cast by mail or early tended to skew toward Democrats, and Republicans preferring to vote on Election Day. But the trend was not necessarily expected to hold true in Oregon, where all voting is done by mail.
Nevertheless, the trend has seemed to hold true this week, and even for races that are officially nonpartisan.
For the Canby City Council race, two of the candidates generally considered to be more conservative than their opponents, Jordan Tibbals and James Hieb, were fifth and sixth, respectively, in early returns. But they, too, gained ground steadily throughout the week.
In Friday’s update, Tibbals had maintained his hold on the fourth — and final — open council seat, while Hieb had moved into fifth — albeit by only nine votes.