Recap: 2020 General Election

The final day of a historic election with record turnout took place on November 3, 2020. While votes are still being counted in the election for US President, Oregon’s outlook began taking shape shortly after the polls closed. There were significant increases in early voting as compared to 2016, with both Republicans and Democrats showing up early and pushing Oregon’s voter turnout to 80.28%.

State Legislative Races

Currently, both the Oregon House (38-22) and Senate (18-12) have Democratic super-majorities. Only a small handful of seats in each are considered swing seats.

Ultimately, if results remain as they stand at this moment, the House will settle at 37 – 23 in favor of Democrats with Republicans gaining one seat, and the Senate will be 18 – 12 in favor of Democrats, maintaining the current balance. This is with a couple races still too close to call. Regardless of the results of those races, the political landscape is unlikely to change. In the House, Democrats will retain their supermajority. In the Senate, with two races still too-close-to-call, technically Democrats could win both and push their majority to 20 but that is highly unlikely. As a result, the “walk-out” will likely remain a political option for Republicans as it has in the last two legislative sessions. 

While there was not much change in either chamber in terms of the balance of power, there will be many new faces in the legislative assembly next session. In all, there will be 18 or 19 new legislators in 2021, which is close to one-third of the Legislature.

Statewide Races

Oregon Secretary of State: State Senator Shemia Fagan (D) faced off against State Senator Kim Thatcher (R) to become Oregon’s next Secretary of State. In the end, Senator Fagan’s vote lead showed up early and held as she went on to win by nearly 9%. This is an important seat as the Secretary of State may play a role in the upcoming redistricting process if the Legislature is unable to agree upon a plan. The secretary of state is next in the line of succession to be Governor should Governor Kate Brown vacate her position for any reason.

State Treasurer: Tobias Read (D) who won election to be Treasurer in 2016 drew a challenge from Republican Jeff Gudman of Lake Oswego.

Attorney General: Oregon law graduate Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum fended off token opposition and won re-election to a third term by over 16 points.

Congressional Outlook

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) easily won a third term, defeating Republican challenger Jo Rae Perkins. Although all five of Oregon’s U.S. House races were up for re-election, the most closely watched race took place in the 4th Congressional District due to the record amount of campaign spending. Notably, the 2nd Congressional District has a new representative in Congressman-Elect Cliff Bentz (R), who will take over for Congressman Greg Walden (R) after he chose not to run for re-election. US Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici also won re-election.

The 4th District for Oregon drew significant resources and attention as newcomer Alek Skarlatos (R) challenged long-time incumbent Congressman Peter DeFazio (D). Ultimately, DeFazio won re-election by roughly 5%.

Local Lane County Races

Eugene City Council: Eugene voters reelected Ward 1 City Council incumbent Emily Semple on Tuesday over newcomer Eliza Kashinsky. Newcomers Randy Groves and Matt Keating won seats in the primary election and will replace retiring councilors Chris Pryor and Betty Taylor, respectively.

Lane County Board of Commissioners: Laurie Trieger will replace Pete Sorenson on the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

Notable Portland Races

Portland Mayor: Incumbent Ted Wheeler fought off a strong challenge from urban policy consultant Sarah Iannarone.

Portland City Council: Mingus Mapps defeated incumbent Chloe Eudaly for the City Council position 4 seat. He has a history of involvement in Old Town Chinatown conversations, which is where UO Portland is located. Mapps joins fellow council newcomer, UO alum and former UOAA Board President Carmen Rubio on the council, who won election in the May primary. Dan Ryan, also a UO alum and former UOAA Board President, was elected in a special election in August to fill the seat vacated by Nick Fish, who passed away during his term in office.