Tiffiny Mitchell keeps HD 32 in Democratic hands
Voters in House District 32 weren't able to cast their ballots for state Rep. Deborah Boone, D-Hamlet, this fall. But they stuck with the incumbent party, electing Astoria Democrat Tiffiny Mitchell to represent the sprawling district.
Mitchell, a social worker, defeated Republican Vineeta Lower of Seaside and two other candidates in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election, according to unofficial results.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 7, Mitchell had won 49 percent of the vote — less than an outright majority, but more than 5.5 percentage points better than Lower, who holds 43.4 percent in the four-way contest.
Brian P. Halvorsen, who won the Independent and Progressive party nominations, and Libertarian Randell Carlson trailed far behind, winning 4.1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
HD 32 is one of the largest House districts in western Oregon, covering Clatsop County and parts of Tillamook and Washington counties, including Gales Creek, Gaston and parts of Banks.
Lower actually carried the mostly rural portion of western Washington County that HD 32 takes in. She won 51.3 percent of the vote to just 39.7 percent for Mitchell in the Washington County part of the district.
Mitchell trounced Lower in her home county of Clatsop, 52.3 percent to 40.5 percent. She carried the Tillamook County portion of the district more narrowly, with a 2.5-point margin there.
Asked why she thinks district voters chose to send her to Salem, Mitchell cited her commitment to supporting Oregon's working families.
"I think if anything, (voters) are trying to say that I am going to do the best I can for them and make Oregon a better place for them and their families," Mitchell said. "I really appreciate everyone who came out for the election, regardless of what side they came out on. Civil engagement is incredibly important to democracy today and I feel honored to have been chosen and will do everything I possibly can to represent people in this area and make them proud."
Mitchell will have to give up her job at the Oregon Department of Human Services to assume her new role in the Legislature.
She will join a number of other freshmen women in the Democratic caucus next year. All three Democrats to flip Republican-held House seats in Oregon are women, including Courtney Neron, a Wilsonville educator who scored an upset victory over Rep. Rich Vial of Scholls in House District 26.
Mitchell knows something about upsets, too. In the Democratic primary, she ran up the middle to beat out Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi, the establishment favorite and Boone's preferred successor, and attorney John Orr, who positioned himself as the progressive choice in the race.
Armed with major union backing and, after winning the primary, the support of the Democratic Party of Oregon, Mitchell amassed more than half a million dollars in total campaign contributions, spending $521,030 this year to ensure that HD 32 would remain blue.
Josi actually crossed party lines to endorse Lower, who downplayed her Republican affiliation on the campaign trail and pledged to listen to constituents' voices as a state representative. A teacher and former transportation official in Washington state, Lower made education and infrastructure major focuses of her campaign.
Democrats hold a registration edge in HD 32, with more than 3,000 more registered Democrats in the district than Republicans, according to the most recent available voter data from the secretary of state's office.
Mitchell's main issue in the campaign was healthcare affordability. She identified as a "working-class Oregonian" and promised to stand up for the working class in Salem.
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