Election 2022

How Things Are Shaking Out So Far after Election Day in Oregon

Oregon's top job, congressional seats, Portland city council and charter reform, and the chief executive of the state’s largest county

By Sam Stites November 8, 2022

The general midterm election in the United States is finally behind us. This fall, we've suffered a gauntlet of alarmist political attack ads on our TVs, in our mail, and while browsing the internet. Trying to enjoy that new episode of Abbott Elementary just isn’t quite the same when you’re bombarded by misquotes and misdeeds from every candidate and their mother. Lucky for us, Election Day means it all ends (at least until the 2024 primary season—May 2023’s school board elections probably won’t pack prime time with attack ads). 

We have the three-way gubernatorial race to thank for a lot of those ads. Although they’re not technically on the ballot, the race for Oregon governor is serving as a political litmus test for several issues. Amid widespread displeasure over rising inflation and crime, Republican voters are reportedly energized to show up at the ballot box in force. The Supreme Court decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade has provided a similar spur for many Democrats.

Here's how things are shaking out as elections officials throughout the state continue to count the stream of ballots flooding into their offices tonight and, thanks to Oregon’s new postmark law, over the next several days. 

Governor of Oregon

Perhaps the most important race in Oregon this cycle is the contest between former House Speaker Tina Kotek, former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, and former state Sen. Betsy Johnson. Thanks to sizable leads in populous Multnomah, Washington, and Lane Counties, as well as smaller Hood River, Benton, and Lincoln Counties, Democrat Kotek has maintained a lead over Drazan, a Republican. Kotek has captured 46 percent to Drazan’s 44, with ballots in and counted from about 50 percent of eligible voters in the state, leading most election watchers to call the race for the Democrat. 

Johnson—a former Democrat who is now not affiliated with a party, and who at one point seemed to be poised to play the spoiler one way or the other—has 9 percent of the vote. Her strongest showing so far has come in Clatsop and Columbia Counties, the area she represented in the Oregon Senate. 

Portland City Commissioner

While he barely had half as many votes in the May primary as the incumbent, Rene Gonzalez has ousted current City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, holding a lead of 54 percent to Hardesty's 45 percent with ballots counted from about half of the city's registered voters. Hardesty had close to that percentage of the vote in the May primary, suggesting Gonzalez managed to unify the not-Hardesty voters from the spring. This is perhaps one of the most highly publicized races in the metro area this fall with Gonzalez and Hardesty sparring over their approach to some of the city’s toughest problems, including housing, homelessness, and crime. Both candidates have faced sharp criticism from each other’s supporters, with many community organizations and unions backing Hardesty and business interests aligning with Gonzalez.

Gonzalez led in most precincts in Multnomah County, but not all. The precincts in which Hardesty had a majority of votes cast were primarily in North and inner Northeast and Southeast Portland.

Multnomah County Chair

Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson holds a slim lead over fellow County Commissioner Sharon Meieran in the race to become the next county chair, the chief executive of the state’s third largest government and an organization of more than 5,000 employees across departments such as public health, human services, and transportation planning. The two women earned the highest number of votes in the May primary, forcing the November runoff in which the topic of bolstering support for mental health services and homelessness was paramount. Vega Pederson has 52 percent of the vote with 38 percent of registered voters' ballots counted. 


All six of Oregon’s freshly redrawn congressional districts—including the shiny new Sixth Congressional District—were up for grabs in this midterm. Incumbents in the First, Second, and Third Congressional Districts—Suzanne Bonamici, Cliff Bentz, and new pedestrian bridge namesake Earl Blumenauer, respectively—easily won reelection, as did Sen. Ron Wyden, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996. 

Oregon’s Fourth 

Democrat Val Hoyle has bested Republican Alex Skarlatos in the race to represent Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District, about 51 percent to 43 percent. Hoyle is a Springfield resident who currently serves as commissioner of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industry. Skarlatos, a former US Army National Guardsman, rose to fame following his role in subduing a gunman on a train in Europe. He challenged US Rep. Peter DeFazio for the seat in 2020 but was defeated. DeFazio announced his retirement from the House in December of last year. The Fourth includes parts of Oregon’s southern and central coast, as well as the communities of Eugene and Roseburg. 

Oregon’s Fifth

Former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer is leading over Jamie McLeod-Skinner, 51 percent to 48, in the race to replace one of Oregon’s most staunchly centrist members of Congress in Rep. Kurt Schrader. McLeod-Skinner defeated Schrader in a primary upset in May to become the Democratic nominee for the redrawn Fifth Congressional District, which encompasses Portland’s southern suburbs, skirts Interstate 5’s east side down past Salem to Albany, and straddles the Cascade Mountains to include the part of Deschutes County that holds Redmond and Bend. The district includes much of Clackamas County, where McLeod-Skinner holds a slim lead and which has counted the fewest ballots so far in terms of the percentage of active registered voters, contributing to the race being considered too close to call.

Oregon’s Sixth

Democrat Andrea Salinas has a slim lead over Republican Mike Erickson, 5o percent to 48 in the race to represent Oregon’s newest district, nestled in the Willamette Valley. It includes the metro area’s southwest suburbs, the city of Salem and most of Oregon wine country. Where to draw this new district was a hotly contested issue in the state capitol last fall, with Salinas—who for the past six years has represented Lake Oswego in the statehouse—leading the effort on behalf of Oregon’s House Democrats, who currently hold a supermajority. Erickson, also of Lake Oswego, owns a logistics company and is a former congressional candidate. 

Ballot Measures 

Measure 114

Voters are split on approving the ballot measure to further strengthen restrictions on firearms in Oregon. The measure requires Oregonians to complete a background check and safety training before acquiring a permit to purchase a firearm. It also prohibits the sale of magazines of more than 10 rounds. With its strongest support coming from the Portland metro area, the measure is passing with 51 percent of voters in favor. 

Ranked Choice Voting for Multnomah County 

By a wide margin, Multnomah County voters are giving the thumbs up to a proposal to move to ranked choice voting for electing candidates to all county offices. The system would let voters rank candidates in order of preference, with votes down the ballot weighing into the final result. Voters are approving the measure with 68 percent in the yes column.  

City of Portland Charter Reform

Portland voters have approved changes to the city’s charter. Measure 26-228 sees the city council expand from four at-large commissioners to 12 positions spread across four geographic districts. The measure adds a city manager to be supervised by the mayor, and moves the city’s elections to ranked choice voting through the single transferable vote system. The measure is passing with 57 percent of voters saying yes. 

Clackamas County Psilocybin Ban 

Voters in rural communities across Clackamas County approved a temporary ban on all businesses related to the production and sale of psilocybin mushrooms. The question was referred to voters by the Clackamas Board of County Commissioners in unincorporated areas, as well as the cities of Estacada, Sandy, and Molalla. The study and use of psilocybin mushrooms to treat conditions such as posttraumatic stress and depression was approved statewide by voters in 2020. But the rollout of rules governing the new policy has been slower than expected, with the advisory board assigned to the task expected to finish its work in December 2022

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


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