Initial count shows Prusak leading Parrish in race for HD 37
Initial returns Tuesday night indicated there may be an upset in the race for Oregon House District 37.
With just over 26,000 votes counted as of 9:15 p.m., Democrat Rachel Prusak had a 53-47 lead over incumbent Republican Julie Parrish. In terms of raw vote count, Prusak had 13,883 while Parrish trailed with 12,233.
"It's not over until it's over," Parrish said in an interview Tuesday night. "I just talked to the county clerk and she said that in Clackamas County there are still 26,000 ballots that were before 8 o'clock pick-up that have not been counted. ... I know plenty of races that have started upside down. Look at Chris Dudley. He went to bed thinking he was our governor and the next morning woke up and the World Almanac printed that he was our governor, so we'll see."
Prusak could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
HD 37 covers Tualatin and West Linn. Parrish, a native Oregonian and West Linn resident, has served as its representative since 2010. Prusak, a Massachusetts native who moved to Oregon three-and-a-half years ago, challenged Parrish in what was her first run for elected office.
Prusak's campaign, which kicked off last November, was sharply critical of Parrish's record on health care, gun control and climate change, among other issues. Parrish, meanwhile, jabbed at Prusak's short time living in the district and accused her of trying to buy the seat with the help of out-of-state consultants.
"At the end of the day, she way outspent me. There's no doubt about it," Parrish said. "By the time all of the dust settles she will have come close to $1 million plus everything not on the books reported."
Parrish's statewide profile heightened earlier this year when she helped sponsor the controversial Measure 101, which asked voters to weigh in on a state tax on health care providers to fund Medicaid. Voters approved the measure, rebuking Parrish's stance that health care shouldn't be taxed. Parrish also is currently involved in a petition to allow voters to weigh in on highway tolls.
According to the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, HD 37 picked up 202 registered Democrats (bringing the total to 17,005) between the May primary and September. The number of registered Republicans increased by 74 to a total of 13,826, while non-affiliated voters went up by 315 (to a total of 12,742).
Parrish, for her part, has noticed the demographics changing around her.
"I think for eight years I have worked very hard to represent the values in this community," she said. "The fact that this race was close said that, but the reality is that the registration edge over the years has moved more Democratic. The fact is that people have fled Portland and come to West Linn and Tualatin to escape bad public schools and to escape high tax rates."
— Reporter Corey Buchanan contributed to this story.