Anti-gay activists almost had enough signatures to put the state's new domestic partnership law on the November 2008 ballot—but not quite. On Monday, October 8, the elections division of the secretary of state's office announced that petitioners for Referendum 303 turned in 55,063 valid, non-duplicate signatures—just 116 short of the 55,179 needed to land on the ballot. (Despite falling short, the petitioners did secure a record-high signature validity rate: 90.97 percent of the 60,531 signatures they turned in were valid.) Results are still outstanding on a second referendum that could send the state's new non-discrimination law to the ballot.

The good news? Same sex couples can register as domestic partners on January 1, securing state benefits and responsibilities of marriage. The bad news: Anti-gay activists told the Oregonian that they plan to pursue a repeal of the new laws. (The campaign did not return the Mercury's call.) AMY J. RUIZ


The primary election is still seven months away, but a "straw poll" at the recent state Democrat confab shows that if the election were held right now, Oregon Dems would go for Barack Obama for president, and Jeff Merkley for senate, according to the good ol' Associated Press.

Obama came out barely ahead of John Edwards, but both candidates outpaced Hillary Clinton—the supposed national frontrunner—by a wide margin.

Merkley, though, absolutely pummeled his rival, Steve Novick, in the race to take over Republican Gordon Smith's seat, taking two votes for every one that Novick got. In other large margins, State Senator Kate Brown took down two of her Democratic opponents in the race for secretary of state, getting 89 votes more than State Senators Brad Avakian and Vicki Walker combined.

Of course, it's dangerous to put too much stock in the straw poll. Since the conference, held October 6 and 7 in Sunriver, drew mostly "establishment" Democrats, their votes may not exactly be representative of Democrats around the state who will vote in next May's election. SCOTT MOORE