We passed two major deadlines for the May primary last week: March 8 was the last day candidates could file to run in the primary. March 11 was the last day candidates could withdraw from the primary. With those two dates behind us, we now know who is actually on the ballot and which races will get bumped to the November election. There may be some legal challenges to work through, which I’ll touch on below that could alter ballots a bit. But most changes moving forward will be informal adjustments like candidates ending their campaigns and throwing their support to folks staying in the race or write-in candidates deciding to start campaigns based on current events.
The first half of this ballot review is already up. It covers judicial races, races in the City of Portland, and ballot measures. This continuation covers county-level, state-level, and federal races.
Multnomah County will only see one uncontested race this year: Jennifer McGuirk is running for reelection as county auditor. McGuirk was elected in 2018after campaigning to use auditorial powers to hold Multnomah County jails accountable. While it’s still in progress, one of McGuirk’s achievements during her first term was starting the first ever audit of county jail conditions. It’s unclear if we’ll see the report from that audit before the May primary, though it would be very helpful for evaluating candidates in another race — the position of Multnomah County Sheriff is up for election and all three candidates are already employed by the sheriff’s office. The current sheriff, Mike Reese, is term-limited.
- Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell: Currently, O’Donnell is the second-in-command at the sheriff’s office.
- Derrick Peterson: In addition to 35 years with the sheriff’s office, Peterson has led the county jail system for the last three years.
- Nicholas Alberts: Alberts is a corrections deputy working inside Multnomah County’s jail system.
Also term-limited? Deborah Kafoury, the chair of the Multnomah County Commission. Three of the four other people on the commission are running in hopes of adding ‘chair’ to their title — Sharon Meieran, Jessica Vega Pederson, and Lori Stegmann. If any of these three win, we’ll see a special election to fill their current seat. Four other candidates registered for this race, although one — Shannon Singleton — withdrew to become interim director of the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services. Sharia Mayfield, Joe Demers, and Bruce Broussard are still in the race. Broussard likely has the most local name recognition, as he hosts a cable access program on local politics and has run for just about every local office, including two prior runs for Multnomah County Commissioner in 2014 and 2018. Susheela Jayapal, the county commissioner for district 2 and the only current commissioner not running for the chair’s seat, is up for reelection. Two challengers are still in the race: Derry Jackson, who was running for Oregon’s new congressional district earlier in the season, and Elizabeth Taylor Dixon, a retiree.
Multiple Clackamas County races will go directly to the November ballot because only one or two candidates registered, including county assessor, county clerk, and county treasurer. The two county commissioner seats up for election each have multiple candidates, however. There are five candidates for Position 2, which is currently held by Commissioner Paul Savas, and there are four candidates for Position 5, which is currently held by Commissioner Sonya Fischer. Both incumbents are running for reelection. In the race for Position 2, the key contender in both name recognition and fundraising is Libra Forde, who currently sits on the North Clackamas School Board and is the COO of Self-Enhancement, Inc. Also in the race are Mark Johnson, Bill Osburn, and Steve Frost. In Position 3, Fischer is facing Evan Geier, Dana Hindman-Allen, and Ben West. West is on the Wilsonville City Council and while he’s only won non-partisan races, has established himself as a Republican with some socially liberal tendencies. West was also one of the plaintiffs in the 2014 lawsuit that struck down Oregon’s ban on marriage between couples of the same gender.
In Washington County, voters will see options for two county commissioner seats on the primary ballot, as well as for county auditor. Incumbent auditor John Hutzler is seeking reelection, challenged by Kristine Adams-Wannberg. Adams-Wannberg not only works under Hutzler as an auditor for Washington County already, she also volunteers as a member of audit committees for the City of Hillsboro, Metro, and the Oregon Department of Revenue. Washington County hasn’t seen a challenger in an auditor’s race in the past 12 years, so both Adams-Wannberg’s and Hutzler’s campaigns will be worth watching.
The candidates for Washington County’s commission include Kathryn Harrington and Beach Pace, who are running for chair of the commission, and Pam Treece and DonFrazier who are running in District 2. Jerry Willey, the incumbent for District 4, was originally facing two challengers but both have withdrawn.
Washington County’s district attorney race is continuing to draw attention, even on the national level. Incumbent Kevin Barton is facing a reformer, Brian Decker, who is able to point to a variety of concerns with Barton’s performance. The race is already on track to cost more than Barton’s 2018 election, which set records. Local political advocacy organization Imagine Black has labeled the race a ‘platinum priority race,’ the group’s highest level of focus. Even if you don’t live in Washington County, this is a race to watch.
Five of Metro’s seven council seats are up for elections this year. The seats are non-partisan and may be decided in the primary. The race to be Metro Council’s president is the most hotly contested. Incumbent Lynn Peterson is running for reelection. Her campaign has been targeted by ads from the dark money group People for Portland (which is currently facing a complaint about those ads under Oregon campaign finance laws). Peterson faces three challengers: Gregory Horner and Gary Dye have minimal experience in government, but Alisa Pyszka has volunteered for multiple Metro committees, as well as a stint as the economic development manager for the City of Vancouver, Washington.
Three of the races for specific Metro districts are a little simpler. Ashton Simpson is unopposed for the District 1 seat, currently held by Councilor Shirley Craddick. Craddick is not running for reelection. Simpson has an established record as an advocate for public transit, especially in East Portland. In the District 2 race, incumbent Christine Lewis is facing Mei Wong, a local business owner. In District 4, incumbent Juan Carlos Gonzalez is facing James Ball, a local business owner.
Normally, the District 6 seat wouldn’t be on this year’s ballot. However, Bob Stacey ended his nine year stint on the council last year due to health issues. The Metro Council selected Duncan Hwang to fill the seat until after the general election this fall. The winner of this year’s election will serve out the remainder of Stacey’s term (two years) and the seat will be up for election again in 2024. Hwang is running for reelection against Terri Preeg Riggsby, who the Metro Council also considered for the interim appointment.
Metro’s auditor, Brian Evans, is also up for reelection, but faces no opposition.
Two executive seats are up for election during this cycle: governor and labor commissioner. The governor’s race always attracts attention, but this year has already drawn plenty of interest:
- Governor Kate Brown is term-limited. In Oregon, the governor is limited to eight years in office during any 12-year period. Brown will have been in office just under seven years at the time of the November election, because she served two years of John Kitzhaber’s term after he resigned in 2015. Just about everyone in the upper echelons of Oregon’s government feels like they have a shot at the office, along with plenty of people who aren’t in government.
- While Oregon hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1982 (Victor Atiyeh, if you’re wondering), backlash against Democrats’ handling of the pandemic makes some people think this is the year that changes.
- 41 people filed to run in the gubernatorial election by the deadline, although seven of those registered didn’t qualify. Nicholas Kristof, a former New York Times columnist was one of those seven, although it took an Oregon Supreme Court ruling to make Kristof’s disqualification stick.
- Betsy Johnson, who is running independently of any party, gets to skip the primary ballot. She’s also dramatically out-fundraising any of her opposition, with a variety of businesses and wealthy individuals topping her fundraiser list.
- Tina Kotek, who resigned as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives earlier this year, and Tobias Read, Oregon’s state treasurer, are leading the Democratic candidates in both fundraising and name recognition. Christine Drazan, who resigned as the minority leader in the Oregon House of Representatives late last year, is leading the Republican candidates in both fundraising and name recognition. It’s worth noting that many donors are spreading funds across multiple candidates: The Papé Group has given $250,000 to Johnson’s campaign, $25,000 each to Read and Drazan, and another $25,000 to Jessica Gomez, another Republican running for governor.
- While Stan Pulliam, the mayor of Sandy, appeared to be a leading candidate for the Republicans, several candidates entered the field just before the deadline. Reports of details of Pulliam’s sex life were a key factor for several of those candidates, who are now campaigning on family values platforms.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Republican and Democratic primaries are anyone’s game, but there are several serious contenders in each party.
There’s also another state executive seat on the primary ballot: While the position of Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries is non-partisan, we do know the party affiliations of many of the candidates because of their involvement in state politics. Casey Kulla, for instance, started out this campaign cycle running as a Democrat for governor, while Cheri Helt represented Bend in the state house as a Republican. Because there are candidates that can turn out both parties on the primary ballot, there will likely be a run-off between two candidates in November.
In addition to massive turnover in leadership positions, Oregon’s state house will likely change dramatically this year. There are 60 total races statewide, and in 43% of those races, the incumbent isn’t running. There’s less turnover expected in the state senate, but that’s partially due to election cycles. State senators serve a four-year term, with only half of the state senate standing for election in each even year. This year, the following senate districts in the Portland area have elections:
- Senate District 13: Chelsea King and Aaron Woods will face off in the Democratic primary, while John Velez is unopposed in the Republican primary. Incumbent Kim Thatcher is running for election in District 11 due to the 2021 redistricting process.
- Senate District 15: Incumbent Janeen Sollman is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Carolina Malmedal is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- Senate District 16: Melissa Busch is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Suzanne Weber is unopposed in the Republican primary. Neither is the incumbent, Rachel Armitage, who pledged not to run for reelection when appointed after Betsy Johnson resigned the seat.
- Senate District 17: Incumbent Elizabeth Steiner Hayward is unopposed in the Democratic primary and John Verbeek is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- Senate District 18: Alisa Blum and Wlnsvey Campos will face off in the Democratic primary. Kimberly Rice is unopposed in the Republican primary. The incumbent, Akasha Lawrence-Spence, was a mid-term appointment and isn’t running for reelection.
- Senate District 19: Incumbent Rob Wagner is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Ben Edtl and Wendy O’Riley will compete in the Republican primary.
- Senate District 20: Incumbent Bill Kennemer will face Tim Large and Christopher Morrisette in the Republican primary. Mark Meek is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
- Senate District 24: Incumbent Kayse Jama is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Stan Catherman is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- Senate District 26: Raz Mason is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Steve Bates, Daniel Bonham, and Michael Nugent will compete in the Republican primary. Chuck Thomsen, the incumbent, is not running for reelection.
Several of the state house races in and around Portland will likely be decided in the primary, because only Democrats filed to run in these districts or because the district leans so heavily Democrat. There are also several state house races with only one candidate in each primary.
- House District 25: Ben Bowman is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Bob Niemeyer and Jason Fields will face off in the Republican primary. Incumbent Jessica George is not running.
- House District 26: Incumbent Courtney Neron is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Jason Fields and Glenn Lancaster are running in the Republican primary.
- House District 27: Ken Helm has already served five terms representing House District 34 (which is now mostly contained by House District 27 due to the 2021 redistricting process) and will face challenger Tammy Carpenter. Sandra Nelson is running unopposed in the Republican primary, but the demographics of the district suggest that it will again elect a Democrat. District 27’s incumbent, Sheri Schouten, is not running for reelection.
- House District 28: Dacia Grayber is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Grayber is the incumbent in District 35, but much of that district was moved to District 28 during redistricting. Patrick Castles and Charles Mengis will compete in the Republican primary. District 28’s incumbent, Wlnsvey Campos, is running for state senate.
- House District 29: Incumbent Susan McLain is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Gina Munster-Moore is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 30: Incumbent Nathan Sosa is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Joe Everton and Todd Morrill will face off in the Republican primary.
- House District 31: Anthony Sorace is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Brian Stout and Drew Layda will compete in the Republican primary. The district’s incumbent, Bradley Witt, is running in District 19.
- House District 32: Logan Laity is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Cyrus Javadi and Glenn Gaither will run in the Republican primary. The district’s incumbent, Suzanne Weber, is running for state senate.
- House District 33: Incumbent Maxine Dexter is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Stan Baumhofer is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 34: Lisa Reynolds was elected in 2020 to represent House District 36 (which is now mostly contained by House District 34 due to redistricting) and will face challenger Jennifer Kinzey in the Democratic primary. The district is likely to remain Democratic. John Woods is running unopposed in the Republican primary. District 34’s incumbent, Ken Helm, is running in District 27.
- House District 35: Farrah Chaichi and Zeloszelos Marchandt are both running in the Democratic primary. Daniel Martin is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Due to redistricting, incumbent Dacia Grayber is running in District 28. However, demographics suggest this district is likely to go Democrat.
- House District 36: Hai Pham is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and Jeffrey Hindley is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Lisa Reynolds, the district’s incumbent, is running in District 34 due to redistricting.
- House District 37: Jules Walters is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and Aeric Estep is running unopposed in the Republican primary. The incumbent, Rachel Prusak, announced she would not seek reelection after the recent legislative session, due to low pay for legislators.
- House District 38: Daniel Nguyen and Neelam Gupta are both running for this seat in the Democratic primary. Alistair Firmin is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Incumbent Andrea Salinas is running for Congress, rather than for reelection to the state legislature.
- House District 39: Janelle Bynum, the incumbent in District 51, is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Kori Haynes is unopposed in the Republican primary. District 39’s incumbent, James Hieb, is running in District 51. Due to redistricting, Districts 39 and 51 swapped significant territory.
- House District 40: James Farley, Charles Gallia, and Annessa Hartman are running in the Democratic primary. Adam Baker and Daniel Tooze are running in the Republican primary. Mark Meek is the incumbent in District 40, but due to redistricting, is running in District 20.
- House District 41: Kaliko Castille, Mark Gamba, and Christopher Draus are running in the Democratic primary, after incumbent Karin Power announced she would not seek reelection due to low legislative pay. The district is expected to remain in Democratic hands. Bob (Elvis) Clark is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 42: Incumbent Rob Nosse is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Scott Trahan is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 43: Incumbent Tawna Sanchez is unopposed in the Democratic primary and Tim LeMaster is unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 44: Incumbent Travis Nelson was appointed to the seat in January after Tina Kotek resigned to focus on her gubernatorial run. He will face challenger Eric Delehoy in the Democratic primary, who was also considered during the appointment process.
- House District 45: Thuy Tran and Catherine Thomasson are running for the seat. Incumbent Barbara Smith Warner announced her plans not to run for another term just hours before the March 8 filing deadline.
- House District 46: Incumbent Khanh Pham is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Timothy Sytsma is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 47: Incumbent Andrea Valderrama is running unopposed.
- House District 48: Hoa Nguyen is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. John Masterman is running unopposed in the Republican primary. Incumbent Jeff Reardon is retiring at the end of this year.
- House District 49: Incumbent Zach Hudson is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Randy Lauer is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 50: Incumbent Ricki Ruiz is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Amelia Salvador is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
- House District 51: Walt Trandum is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. James Hieb (who is the incumbent in District 39) and Lisa Davidson will face off in the Republican primary. The incumbent for this district is Janelle Bynum, who is running in District 39 due to redistricting.
- House District 52: Darcy Long is unopposed in the Democratic primary. James Born, Jeff Helfrich, and Britt Storkson will compete in the Republican primary. Incumbent Anna Williams is not running for reelection due to low legislative pay.
That may look like a long list, but most folks will only see one state representative race on their ballot, perhaps accompanied by one state senator race. Of course, no member of the state legislature acts on their own, so having a sense of the whole group can come in handy.
It’s a little hard to work up excitement about most of the federal races that will appear on the May ballot. Congressional Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Cliff Bentz (OR-2), and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) will all face challengers in their party’s primary. But they’re all incumbents with decent fundraising skills and good relationships with their respective parties. It’s hard to imagine scenarios where any of these three will be defeated in this year’s elections. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is in a similar situation, while Senator Jeff Merkley is not up for reelection until 2026. Even with discussions of Democratic voters’ disappointment in President Joe Biden and congressional leaders’ work over the past two years, few pundits are willing to predict upsets in these races. The other three congressional districts in Oregon may prove more interesting, however.
I’m not following the race in Congressional District 4 closely, but it will likely be an exciting race with plenty of state and national coverage. Rep. Peter DeFazio has held the seat for 18 terms, since 1987. At least nine of DeFazio’s current colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives were born after he started his first term. On the other hand, more than 40 of his colleagues are older than DeFazio is. He announced last December he would not seek reelection. Candidates in the Democratic primary include Val Hoyle (the current state labor commissioner), Andrew Kalloch (an Airbnb executive), Sami Al-Abdrabbuh (chair of the Corvallis School Board), and six others. Only one Republican candidate is running — Alek Skarlatos.
Rep. Kurt Schrader has won seven elections in Congressional District 5, but he’s facing an unusually strong primary challenger in Jamie McLeod-Skinner, as well as very different demographics after redistricting. Schrader is a fundraising powerhouse, but he’s burned a lot of bridges with Democratic supporters in recent years. The Republican primary is crowded with five candidates. Two of those candidates, Lori Chavez-DeRemer (the former mayor of Happy Valley) and Jimmy Crumpacker (who ran a primary campaign in 2020 where he nicknamed himself ‘The Trumpbacker’), are on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of candidates with a shot at flipping a House seat.
Oregon’s new congressional district is also pulling in plenty of attention. Because there’s no incumbent, it’s seen as an opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The result is 16 candidates — nine Democrats and seven Republicans. There are some familiar names from every level of Oregon’s government, as well as business owners, medical professionals, and cryptocurrency investors. A few of the highlights on the Democratic side include:
- Loretta Smith, who formerly sat on the Multnomah County Commission.
- Teresa Alonso León, the current state representative for Oregon House District 22.
- Andrea Salinas, the current state representative for House District 38.
- Matt West, an Intel engineer and cryptocurrency developer.
- Cody Reynolds, a cryptocurrency investor who has lent his campaign $2 million.
There are some interesting names in the Republican primary, as well:
- Ron Noble, the current state representative for House District 24. Noble is noteworthy as the only Republican legislature who didn’t walk out of the state legislature over redistricting.
- Jim Bunn, who served one term as U.S. Representative for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District from 1995 to 1997.
- Amy Ryan Courser, a former member of the Keizer City Council who ran against Schrader in Congressional District 5 in 2020 on a QAnon platform.
There’s just under two months left until primary ballots are due, so you’ll be seeing these names a lot in the coming weeks.
This article has been updated to correct Washington County commission races. Previous versions of this article are available on the Internet Archive.