Kotek Defeats Drazan for Governor; Chavez-DeRemer Declares Victory in Oregon’s 5th

Democrat Tina Kotek declared victory Thursday in the race to be Oregon’s next governor, while newcomer Herman Maldonado had edged out three-term incumbent Greg Parker for the third open seat on the Canby City Council in the latest returns from Clackamas County.

Thursday’s returns showed Maldonado, a maintenance director who would be Canby’s first Hispanic-American city councilor, with a slim, 20-vote lead over Parker, after trailing by about 70 votes in initial returns on Election Night.

If the results hold, it would mean a clean sweep for a conservative-leaning slate of candidates — retiring Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis, incumbent Councilor Shawn Varwig and Maldonado — whose campaign signs were often grouped together around town.

“I want to say thank you to all who have supported me through this incredible journey,” Maldonado wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page Thursday. “I absolutely love this great big little city. You ALL are the reason I am proud to call Canby home. Regardless of the outcome of this election, I will do my best to be a voice for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

In the much-watched governor’s race, Kotek formally declared victory Thursday morning after building a seemingly insurmountable lead of more than 65,000 votes, and having the race called for her favor by both The Oregonian and OPB. The Associated Press and New York Times also declared Kotek the victor Thursday.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan addresses supporters on Election Night. Photo by Tyler Francke.

“I am honored and humbled by this opportunity to serve, and I will strive every day to be a force for positive change in our state,” Kotek said during a news conference in Portland Thursday morning. She joins Maura Healey, recently elected in Massachusetts, as one of the first openly lesbian governors in American history.

At the time, Kotek’s Republican opponent, former House Minority Leader and Canby resident Christine Drazan, had not conceded.

“With several hundred thousand ballots yet to be counted, we continue to exercise patience as we await additional clarity regarding the final outcome of this race,” her campaign said in a brief statement Thursday. “Oregonians should have confidence that their votes will be counted as our county clerks continue their diligent work.”

However, she did admit defeat the following day, in a video message posted to social media on Veterans Day afternoon.

“It was a hard-fought battle, and this was not the outcome we’d hoped for,” she said. “But I am grateful to have been a part of this process. I am grateful to have had the incredible opportunity to travel our state and meet with Oregonians … and fight for a future that included balance and accountability.”

Other races remain very close, including the run-off between Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Jamie McLeod-Skinner for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, which Chavez-DeRemer leads by 6,000 votes, and the razor-tight contest between incumbent Clackamas County Commissioner Sonya Fischer and Ben West, who are separated by 250.

The race for Oregon’s 5th was also called Friday by The Oregonian, acknowledging that McLeod-Skinner held narrow leads in Clackamas and her home county of Deschutes, where ballots remain uncounted, but that the margins would not be enough to make up her deficit.

“I am humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support we received throughout this campaign,” Chavez-DeRemer said in a campaign statement Friday. “From the suburbs of Clackamas, down to rural Linn and Marion counties, and over to the Cascades to Central Oregon, one thing was clear to me: Oregonians wanted common-sense solutions to their everyday problems.

The former mayor of Happy Valley touted her bipartisan track record and promised to “approach every issue through a nonpartisan lens” in her new role as a U.S. congresswoman.

If the results hold, she will be Oregon’s first Latina U.S. representative and the first Republican woman to win a congressional seat in the state. She would also be the first Republican to hold the seat in over 25 years.

But, as of 2 p.m., McLeod-Skinner had not conceded.

“Most media outlets have not called this race,” she said. “There are thousands of ballots still to be counted, including at least 65,000 in Clackamas County alone, along with additional ballots that are contested or challenged. It’s still too soon to make any declaration on this race.”

Clackamas County said it received an “unprecedented” number of ballots dropped off or mailed by voters on or before Election Day and announced plans for elections officials to work Veterans Day and Saturday to process them.

As of Thursday, an estimated 60,000 to 65,000 ballots remain to be processed, the county said, a number that is somewhat fluid because mailed ballots that are postmarked by Election Day must now be counted if they are received by Tuesday, November 15, pursuant to a new state law.

Election officials estimate they could complete processing of the remaining ballots received through Election Day by Saturday night.

New results will not be posted Friday, county officials said, as election workers will focus on verifying signatures instead of scanning ballots, so the next drop is expected by 6 p.m. Saturday.

“Verifying signatures ensures election security, prevents fraud and is the most time-consuming part of processing ballots,” a release from Clackamas County said. “Given that voters favored casting their ballot last minute in the election cycle, we have many ballots waiting for signature verification which is the first step in processing ballots.”

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