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Lisa Loving of The Skanner News
Published: 16 May 2012

Charlie Hales jumped into the lead in Portland's mayoral race from the first county elections returns. Helen Silvis photo


One of the most competitive primary ballots in years has ended in an election night of historic low turnout in Multnomah County and across the state of Oregon.

State officials clocked the statewide voter turnout at 35.53 percent as of Wednesday afternoon; in Multnomah County, the rate was just over 30 percent – abysmal for a presidential election year.

In unofficial returns, on the local level in the city of Portland, million-dollar mayoral candidate Eileen Brady was trounced in double-digit losses to Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith, who spent about half as much on their campaigns and who now advance to the Nov. 6 General Election.

State campaign finance records show that Brady loaned her campaign $125,000 last week; in total, as of May 16, the state's ORESTAR computerized reporting system shows Brady received $817,538.28 in total contributions, but spent $908,879.08 and ended the campaign with $250,000 in total outstanding loans. Altogether, Brady's campaign has a deficit of $213,235.78.

Jefferson Smith's campaign
, according to ORESTAR, took in $414,682.22 in total contributions but is now looking at a $91,367 deficit; Charlie Hales took in $531,952.11 and ended the primary with a $68,537.56 deficit.

In the sometimes-bitter race for Portland City Commissioner Position #1, incumbent Amanda Fritz – the only candidate currently holding office elected through publicly-funded elections, which have since been discontinued -- had pulled ahead of challenger Mary Nolan by 90 votes as of noon on Wednesday; no matter which of the two emerges with the most votes they will both be heading to a runoff.

The Multnomah County Library Bond Levy sailed to passage with almost 84 percent "yes" votes, while the "housekeeping" changes to the City of Portland charter all passed as well.

In East County, David Douglas High School's $49.5 million bond measure was overwhelmingly victorious, with 63.92 percent of the vote versus 36.08 percent against.

Judge Ellen Rosenblum, here with campaign staff and supporters, buried challenger Dwight Holton almost 2 to 1 in the race for Oregon Attorney General -- she will now be the first woman ever elected to the position. Helen Silvis photo


Five races at least were decided outright on Tuesday night: Steve Novick took Portland City Council Position #4 with almost 75 percent of the vote; Sam Chase pulled down almost 60 percent to take Metro Councilor 5th District; Bob Stacey won nearly 85 percent for Metro Councilor Sixth District; Ellen Rosenblum defeated Dwight Holton in the Oregon Attorney General's race by more than 2 to 1; and Secretary of State Kate Brown won more than 90 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Knute Beuhler.

More Statewide Results

As of noon Wednesday, the Oregon Secretary of State reported that Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for president, while Republican Mitt Romney won the nod to challenge him in November; Ron Paul ran second for the Republican nomination with almost 13 percent of the vote, or 34,227 votes cast, pulling ahead of Rick Santorum, who drew 9.39 percent, or more than 25,000 votes statewide.

In the U.S. Congress 1st District, Democrat Suzanne Bonamici squares off against Republican challenger Delinda Morgan; in the 2nd District – the largest in the state and one of the largest Congressional District in the country -- Democrat Joyce Segers now faces Republican incumbent Rep. Greg Walden; in the 3rd District, incumbent Rep. Earl Blumenauer is in the runoff against Republican Ronald Green; for the 4th District, incumbent Rep. Peter DeFazio is up against Republican Art Robinson.

One of the most remarkable facts about last night's primaries, revealed by waves of election returns from county elections bureaus and the Secretary of State's office, is how few registered Republicans remain in Oregon.

In Multnomah County, which has the highest overall population in the state, there are just 69,368, compared to 115,516 "nonaffiliated" voters and 222,427 registered Democrats.

Jefferson Smith's father Joe, with mayoral  candidate Teressa Raiford. Helen Silvis photo

Statewide, there are 671,328 registered Republicans; 551,732 "nonpartisan" voters (which the Secretary of State defines as "nonaffiliated, minor parties and others"); and 830,510 registered Democrats.

"Republican vote totals for SoS (Secretary of State), AG (Attorney General) and Treasurer include nonaffiliated voters who chose to vote these republican contests at the invitation of the Republican Party," according to the Secretary of State's elections web page.

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