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Grant close behind Clarke in race for Columbia County Circuit Court judge position

Michael Clarke came in first in the primary contest for the single contested race for Columbia County Circuit Court, over incumbent Jenefer Grant. The two will compete again in November.

Grant received 41.2% of the vote, while Clarke received 42.1%. James D. Huffman was far behind, with 16.4% of the vote.

Clarke is a partner at Clarke Griffin Attorneys in Scappoose. He has primarily worked on civil cases; the state's online court record database shows Clarke has been involved in more than 240 civil cases, compared to just a dozen criminal cases.

Grant has served as judge since 2007. For a decade prior, she worked as an attorney in St. Helens. From 2012 to 2019, Grant was the circuit court's presiding judge, which involves delegating court cases among the three judges. She resigned from that position in April 2019 "to avoid conflict with another judge," Grant said last year.

Grant was endorsed by current presiding judge Ted Grove. Clarke, on the other hand, had the endorsement of the county's third judge, Cathleen Callahan. District Attorney Jeff Auxier endorsed Grant, while local attorneys were divided.

A challenge to an incumbent judge is fairly uncommon, but Grant faced criticism after the Spotlight reported on a county investigation that found she had falsely accused a colleague of "stalking" a subordinate.

Callahan and Grove both ran unopposed.

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