Suburban Democrats holding strong in Westside legislative races
Two years after expanding their margins by picking up outlying suburban districts on Portland's Westside, Oregon Democrats appear to be mostly holding their ground in the 2020 election.
House District 24
Unofficial results as of Wednesday morning, Nov. 4, show state Rep. Ron Noble, R-Carlton, easily turning back a challenge from Carlton Democrat Lynnette Shaw in House District 24, which stretches from South Hillsboro to McMinnville. The district narrowly favors Democrats by party registration, although it's close.
Noble leads Shaw 57.8% to 43.7%, according to results from the secretary of state's office.
"It's pretty humbling to be re-elected," Noble told the Pamplin Media Group. "I know that there's a lot of emotion out there about what's going on in state government."
Noble said he doesn't expect a big change in the composition of the Legislature, where Democrats hold sizable majorities in both the House and the Senate, although unofficial results suggest some seats on the coast, in Central Oregon and elsewhere may change hands.
House District 26
After winning in an upset two years ago, state Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, appears to have defeated opponent Peggy Stevens, a Sherwood Republican, with 55.9% of the vote to 42% for Stevens in early returns.
House District 26 covers a swath of territory from Hillsboro to Wilsonville. Democrats hold a voter registration edge here, but not as strongly as in several other suburban House districts.
House District 31
In a rematch of the 2018 election, state Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, is narrowly beating out Columbia City Republican Brian G. Stout in House District 31. Witt leads Stout with 50.5% to 49.4% in vote share. It's a margin of just 465 votes, as of 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Witt has represented the district, which encompasses Columbia County and pieces of northern Washington and Multnomah counties, in the Oregon House since 2005. While the district's favorable trend for Republicans gave Stout and his backers hope of flipping it this year, Witt touted a heterodox voting record and his strong relationship with popular state Sen. Betsy Johnson to argue he is still the best fit for the mostly rural district.
Stout is leading in Columbia County, early returns show, but Witt is just barely managing to compensate with strong showings in the Washington and Multnomah portions of the district.
House District 32
Republicans appear to have flipped a key target on the North Coast.
Freshman Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell, D-Astoria, announced unexpectedly in March that she wouldn't seek a new term after surviving a recall effort. Republicans lined up a strong nominee in Tillamook Mayor Suzanne Weber, who is leading Debbie Boothe-Schmidt, a Warrenton Democrat, with 53.9% of the vote to 45.9% for the Democrat as of Wednesday morning.
House District 32 includes all of Clatsop County, much of Tillamook County, and parts of western Washington County, including Gaston and Gales Creek.
Boothe-Schmidt conceded the race on Facebook Tuesday night and congratulated Weber on her victory.
House District 37
A deeply negative campaign doesn't appear to have done West Linn Republican Kelly Sloop any favors in her long-shot bid to take back House District 37 for the Republican Party.
Covering Tualatin and West Linn, the district has trended strongly toward Democrats in recent years, and two years after flipping the seat to the Democratic Party, state Rep. Rachel Prusak of West Linn leads Sloop by a huge margin, 61.5% to 38.4%, in unofficial results as of Wednesday morning.
Senate District 12
In one of the only nominally competitive Senate races touching the greater Portland area this fall, state Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, defeated little-known Democrat Bernadette Hansen of McMinnville. As of Wednesday morning, Boquist had captured 58.1% of the vote against just 41.8% for Hansen.
Democrats had held out some hope that even Boquist's largely conservative constituents in sprawling Senate District 12, which runs from Hillsboro south nearly to Corvallis, would be ready to replace their senator after a series of outbursts and erratic behavior during and after the 2019 legislative session. But they failed to line up a top-tier candidate, and Hansen never raised enough money to pose a serious challenge in the race.
In less closely watched races:
• Wlnsvey Campos will become one of the youngest legislators in state history. The 24-year-old Aloha Democrat is leading Republican Daniel Martin with 65.6% of the vote in House District 28. The Beaverton- and Aloha-based seat, being vacated by veteran lawmaker Jeff Barker, was considered a safe Democratic hold this year.
• Dacia Grayber of Southwest Portland is keeping House District 35 in Democratic hands. A union firefighter, Grayber was swiftly minted by Democrats as the heir apparent after longtime Rep. Margaret Doherty of Tigard announced her retirement in January. Grayber leads Republican Bob Niemeyer with 68.2% of the vote in the heavily Democratic district.
• Lisa Reynolds has won her first term in the Oregon House in Portland's House District 36. Reynolds leads her Republican opponent, James Ball, with 83.2% of the vote. The seat was formerly held by Jennifer Williamson, a previous House majority leader who resigned from the Legislature in January. Akasha Lawrence-Spence, the Democrat appointed to succeed Williamson, chose not to run for a full term.
• After waging an impressive campaign to easily beat longtime Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten in the Democratic primary, Portland's Kate Lieber will keep Senate District 14 in her party's hands. Lieber leads Aloha Republican Harmony Mulkey with a commanding 69.6% of the vote in unofficial results early on Election Night. The district, which stretches from Aloha into Portland's West Hills, is being vacated by Mark Hass, a longtime legislator from Beaverton who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state this May.
Results are not final and could change as more ballots are tabulated. They will remain unofficial until the counts are completed and certified by the secretary of state later this month.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, with additional results and quotes.
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