This Tuesday was Oregon’s first general election after redistricting. In many areas, both incumbents and first-time congressional and legislative candidates needed to introduce themselves to district voters. This was also one of the first Oregon elections where ballots only needed to be post marked by election day to be counted. While a few races are currently too close to call and an unknown number of ballots will be arriving over the next few days, there is a general sense of the make-up of Oregon’s congressional delegation and state legislature.
Federal Election Landscape
Three congressional district races have not yet been officially called. For OSU campus locations, we are tracking particularly closely the outcome of the OR-4 and OR-5 House races. Both Corvallis and Newport fall within the newly drawn lines of the OR-4. For this race, Val Hoyle (D-Springfield) has what is expected to be a sufficient lead and has declared victory. Additionally, the newly drawn lines of the OR-5 now capture Bend and the winner will newly represent OSU-Cascades campus. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Happy Valley) currently leads over Jamie McCleod-Skinner (D-Terrebonne). Finally, Oregon’s new 6th congressional district from SW Portland suburbs to Salem also remains too close to call, but Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) leads Mike Erickson (R-Tigard).
We currently expect to have results for the outstanding Oregon races by Tuesday, November 15. In other races, incumbents U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), and Cliff Bentz (R-OR-2) have each been declared winners with substantial margins.
At the national level, several House and Senate races are still yet-to-be-decided. For both the House and Senate, outcomes of the remaining undecided races are needed to determine which party will hold the majority power for each chamber. For the U.S. House, the Republican party is on a likely path to retake the majority status from the Democrats with at least 218 seats. For the U.S. Senate, in the current congress, the democrats hold the majority with 50 seats and the Vice President as a tiebreaker. As of now, Nevada and Arizona senate races remain undecided, with a Georgia race requiring a December run-off. Either party must win both yet-to-be decided Senate races in order to claim the 51-seat majority for next congress. If the parties split the remaining races to be decided, the December run-off for the Georgia Senate seat will determine the party with the majority. The final outcomes to determine which party will hold the majority power in both the U.S. Senate and House will shape our expectations for the federal agenda next congress
The three-way Governor’s race in Oregon made it one of the most interesting and competitive in the Nation. It was also the most expensive in Oregon’s history. As of election day, Kotek spent $29M, Drazan $22.4M and Johnson $17.5M.
While early ballot turn-ins showed a stronger turnout of Republican voters, Kotek rallied her base and brought along more non-affiliated voters. She currently leads by 3.4% and is the expected Governor-Elect.
State Legislative Races
Due to the number of outstanding ballots and close margins, many legislative contests currently remain un-called. Regardless, current results are indicative of shifting political coalitions across Oregon even if partisan control of both chambers remains largely the same:
One of the most pronounced shifts occurred in the Salem/Keizer metro: Republicans Tracy Cramer (R-Woodburn) and Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer) defeated Democratic challengers in House seats that were previously held by retiring Democrats. Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) also won re-election to the Senate in District 11 which shifted into her constituency via redistricting. Senate District 11 is being vacated by outgoing Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem).
However, Democrats remained competitive in the mid-valley region with Senator Deb Patterson (D-South Salem) fending off Representative Raquel Moore-Greene (R-South Salem) in Senate District 10. Representative Moore Greene’s vacated House seat was flipped by Democrat Tom Anderson (D-South Salem)
Communities in the coastal region continued their recent trend of replacing retiring Democrats with Republicans: Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Astoria) flipped Senate District 16, previously held by Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) for a decade and a half. However, while Republicans can celebrate success in a long-held Democrat seat, Representative Weber’s vacated seat, House District 32 (Astoria/Warrington), remains too close to call: Republican Cyrus Javadi has a 500-vote lead over Democrat Logan Laity. While Javadi’s margin is expected to hold, Laity’s competitiveness came as a surprise after Republicans flipped this seat in 2020 in the most expensive legislative contest that cycle.
If Javadi is declared the winner in House District 32, Representative David Gomberg (D-Newport) will be the sole Democrat on the Coastal Caucus, which once operated as one of the only substantive bi-partisan caucuses in Salem. The Coastal Caucus has been a key voice in advancing OSU legislative priorities in natural resources and on the coast.
Additionally, Deschutes County continued its transition into a Democrat-leaning community with Emerson Levy (D-Redmond) holding a small but consistent lead over Republican Michael Sipe (R-Redmond) in House District 53, which is being vacated by Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond). In neighboring House District 54, Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend) won in a landslide against his Republican challenger. We expect continued and strengthened political support for OSU-Cascades with both Representative Kropf and Senator Knopp returning to Salem as committed advocates for the campus.
Overall, while some contests in Clackamas County and East Multnomah County remain too close to call, the partisan composition of both chambers will likely remain largely unchanged: Democrats will control a minimum of 16 seats in the Senate while the Republican Caucus sits at 13 seats. The race for Senate District 20, between Senator Bill Kennemer (R-Canby) and Representative Mark Meek (D-Oregon City), remains too close to call. As it currently stands in the House, Democrats maintain a lead in 35 seats versus Republicans in 25 seats. It remains to be seen if Republicans can take the lead in any of the close races where votes are left to be counted.
While Democrats have likely lost their supermajorities in both chambers, Republicans possess fewer political tools to impact the legislative process with the passage of Measure 113 (see below). We expect the breadth and tone of the 2023 legislative session to be driven by the agenda of Governor-Elect Tina Kotek and economic forecasting for the next biennium.
State Ballot Measures
This year’s ballot had four measures. Three were constitutional amendments and two of which were referred to the voters by the legislature.
- Measure 111 amends the constitution to ensures affordable healthcare access to be balanced against state requirements to fund schools and other essential services. Currently passing by a small margin
- Measure 112 amends the constitution to remove language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime. Currently passing
- Measure 113 amends the constitution to disqualify legislators with ten unexcused absences from holding office the next term. Currently passing
- Measure 114 requires a permit to acquire firearms, local policy offices to maintain a firearms permitting database, and criminally prohibits large ammunition magazines. Currently passing by a small margin
For more Oregon election results, please see the Oregon Secretary of State website.