Oregon’s dominant political coalition of progressive organizations scored resounding victories across the board on Election Night as they pushed nearly all of their candidates and ballot measures to victory. The victories were decisive and total.
In addition to pushing Governor Brown to victory, the progressive coalition added one Democratic to their Senate majority and a whopping three house seats to their House majority. Democrats now have ‘supermajorities’ in both chambers.
Governor: Republican Knute Buehler (R), once thought to be the perfect challenger to an unpopular Governor Kate Brown (D) due to his moderate and progressive stances, was no match for the incumbent. Governor Brown easily won re-election 50% - 44%.
Bottom line: Governor Kate Brown (D) wins re-election to 4-year term.
State Senate: As expected, Democrats expanded their majority in the State Senate by one seat. The open southern Oregon senate seat vacated by Republican Alan DeBoer was easily won by Democrat Jeff Golden, who was a former Jackson County Commissioner. Again, this was another instance in which Republicans thought they had their ideal moderate candidate in local tech CEO Jessica Gomez, but Golden won 55% - 45%. This expands the Democratic majority in the Senate to 18-12, which theoretically enables them to pass taxes without Republican support.
As of this writing, incumbent senator Chuck Thomsen (R – Hood River) is clinging to a 660 vote margin in Senate District 26. This is the last outstanding race that will give Republicans any relevance at all in the Oregon legislature for the next two years. If Thomsen wins, Republicans may be able to team up with moderate Democrats to block taxes and far-reaching policies. If they lose – and the Senate Democrat majority expands to 19-11 – they will effectively lose their ability to stop or modify anything.
Bottom line: Democrats expand majority from 17-13 to 18-12.
State House: This is where Democrats scored their most stunning victories of the night and expanded their majority by three seats. Democrats now hold a commanding 38-22 majority and can effectively pass legislation and taxes at will. To gain their newly-minted supermajority, they easily knocked out the three most vulnerable House Republicans and defended their own vulnerable incumbents comfortably.
Democrat Courtney Neron scored the biggest surprise of the night when she defeated freshman Republican Rich Vial 51% - 47% in House District 26 (Washington County). In Hood River, Anna Williams defeated freshman Republican legislator Jeff Helfrich 52% - 47%. In West Linn/Tualatin, Democrat Rachel Prusak defeated four-term incumbent Julie Parrish 53% - 47%.
Bottom line: Democrats expand majority from 35-25 to 38-22.
Ballot Measures: Unions and progressives easily defeated a slate of ballot measures that were proposed by the business community (Measures 103 & 104) and social conservatives (Measure 105 & 106). But in a measure with the biggest impact on business and consumers, environmental groups were successful in passing a gross receipts tax on large retailers to pay for environmental programs (Portland Measure 26-201).
Measure 102 allow for private ownership and management of housing projects funded through local bond levies. Private involvement was previously prohibited. Measure passed with 56%. OSCC Supported.
Measure 103 would have pre-empted all state and local taxes on groceries. It was defeated with 57%. OSCC Supported.
Measure 104 would have required 3/5th “supermajority” votes in the legislature for all revenue raising legislation. It was soundly defeated with 65% opposed. OSCC Supported.
Measure 105 would have repealed Oregon’s sanctuary state law. It was defeated with 63% opposition.
Measure 106 would have prohibited the practice of taxpayer funds for abortion procedures for Medicaid recipients. It was defeated with 64% opposed.
Portland Measure 26-201 imposed a gross receipts tax on large retailers in Portland and directed new tax revenues to a “Clean Energy” fund. Estimated to raise between $30 million and $80 per year, it easily passed muster with Portland voters with a whopping 64%.
Bottom line: Progressives mount successful defense of all ballot measures and pass sweeping new gross receipts tax in Portland for “large” retailers.