Now that the 2018 midterm elections are over, all social media newsfeeds and TV commercials will go back to their regularly scheduled programming. But how did the election play out in Oregon?
Voter turnout and engagement by Oregonians was huge, with at least 1.87 million voters casting ballots. Turnout was likely driven by national momentum from both political parties, the race for Governor, and several hotly contested ballot measures. Five statewide measures asked voters to weigh in on everything from taxes to immigration.
Democrats in the Oregon House and Senate not only retained control, but gained supermajorities as they flipped three Republican-held seats in the House and one in the Senate. These gains pave the way for a progressive 2019 agenda that will include climate change mitigation, paid family leave, affordable housing, investments in education, and broader conversations about revenue reform and cost controls.
Nationally, Democrats—as predicted—flipped the U.S. House of Representatives, effectively ending one-party control in Congress. They also picked up several state legislative and gubernatorial races around the country. Republicans had wins on election night too, gaining seats in the Senate and holding onto some key governor’s races across the country.
Here’s where it all landed in the Beaver State.
Incumbent Kate Brown defeated Republican challenger Knute Buehler by a roughly five point margin for a four-year term. The campaign was defined by Oregon’s public education system and lackluster graduation rates, as well as by how to deal with financial obligations related to the public retirement system and their impact on core public services. Governor Brown will continue her agenda related to increasing investments in early childhood and K-12 education, job readiness, climate change, homelessness and addiction, and other human services.
Democrats not only held majorities in both chambers of the Oregon Legislature, but achieved supermajorities. House Democrats picked up three seats: Anna Williams flipped District 52 (Hood River, Columbia Gorge) by defeating incumbent Rep. Jeff Helfrich; Rachel Prusak took out incumbent Rep. Julie Parrish in District 37 (West Linn); and Courtney Neron edged out incumbent Rep. Richard Vial in District 26 (Scholls). The House will have 38 Democrats and 22 Republicans next session.
Senate Democrats also picked up one seat to gain a supermajority. District 3 (Ashland/Southern OR) went from red to blue with the election of Jeff Golden to the open seat vacated by Alan DeBoer. The Senate will have 18 Democrats and 12 Republicans next session.
Oregon has a long tradition of a widely used initiative and referendum system, and this year proved no different.
Measure 102 passed. With its passage, the state’s constitution is amended to allow local entities—with voter approval—to use bond revenue to fund affordable housing projects.
Measure 103 failed. It asked voters to amend the state’s constitution to prevent local governments from establishing a tax on groceries.
Measure 104 failed. It asked voters to define “raising revenue” in the state’s constitution to include changes to tax exemptions, credits, and deductions that result in increased revenue, as well as the creation or increase of taxes and fees.
Measure 105 failed. It asked voters to repeal the state law that forbids law enforcement from using state resources to detect or apprehend persons whose only violation of the law is that of federal immigration law.
Measure 106 failed. It asked voters to amend the state’s constitution to prohibit public funds from being spent on abortions, except when medically necessary or required by federal law.
The Oregon Delegation in Congress
All five of Oregon’s representatives to the US House were re-elected. With the US House now in the hands of the Democrats, Congressman DeFazio, who is currently the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is expected to become chairman. The change in leadership sets off a process of allocating chairmanships, subcommittee roles, and new committee assignments that is decided by leadership, caucus votes and/or seniority.
In Washington’s Third Congressional District (encompassing Vancouver, WA and nearby communities), Republican Jamie Herrera-Beutler narrowly turned back a strong challenge from Carolyn Long, a Washington State University political science professor at its Vancouver campus and graduate of the University of Oregon.
In the US Senate, the map favored the current Republican majority to retain control and that’s what happened. No substantive changes to committee assignments are expected for Oregon’s senators.
The “lame duck” Congress is back in session on November 13th with a deadline of December 7th to take final action on the FY19 budget or risk a government shutdown.
Oregon has a new Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Val Hoyle won election back in the May primary and will take office in January, replacing Brad Avakian who has served in the role since 2008.
Several Eugene City Council incumbents won re-election. Two new Lane County Commissioners are Heather Buch, who unseated Gary Williams in the November runoff, and Joe Berney, who in the May election defeated incumbent Sid Leiken.