Welcome to election night, Portland!
Join the Mercury Election Strike Force as we wade through the unprecedented chaos of virtual election night parties and an avalanche of election results!
It's going to be a wild night. We have three Portland City Comissioner seats up for grabs—with few clear front-runners, meaning we'll probably see multiple races end in a runoff election. We have the possibility of Ted Wheeler becoming the first Portland mayor to serve two terms since the early 2000s—unless challenger Sarah Iannarone nudges him into a runoff race. We have two candidates with vastly different opinions about criminal justice reform facing off in the Multnomah County District Attorney's race, and a juicy competition for an open seat on the Metro Council. At the state level, we have a heated Secretary of State race and several open seats for Portland-area legislative districts. We'll also be watching whether or not voters will approve new taxes (one to support homeless services, the other to improve Portland streets) in the midst of an economic freefall. Lastly, we'll be seeing how many of you chose to vote for Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders (or Tulsi?!) over Joe Biden.
Tune in here for on-the-spot updates from Mercurians Alex Zielinski, Blair Stenvick, Steve Humphrey, and Bob Ham as the night chugs along. The first wave of results drops at 8 pm.
Buckle up! It's going to be a weird night.
Update, 12:03 am:
Well, folks, it's suddenly Wednesday, and we don't yet have conclusive answers on a number of races we've been following. But we've gotta be up early to feed the cattle tomorrow, so we're calling it a night. Thanks for tuning in, and check the Mercury again tomorrow (or, um, today) for more election news!—BS
Update, 12:02 am
Waiting for more updates, I decided to dig around the other races happening around the state and found this:
Surely there's a story here, and I want to know what it is.—RH
Update, 11:26 pm:
We're still waiting on updated numbers for a number of key races, including the Portland mayoral race, two Portland City Council seats, and Metro District 5. It's anyone's guess when those numbers will be refreshed.—BS
Update 10:50 pm:
Few candidates in the City Council races seem interested in talking until there's new results from the elections office—everyone seems a little too nervous to go on the record about their chances before the chips fall. Patiently refreshing the Secretary of State webpage as my eyes glaze over. —AZ
Update, 10:12 pm
While I work on my third whiskey of the night and wait for more updates to come in, I thought I'd check to see how the voter turnout for this primary election compares with recent years. I mean... what the hell else am I gonna do?
With just over 42 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, the 2020 election is on par with others that happened during a Presidential primary year. We didn't do as great as 2016 when 53 percent of voters turned out, but had a nice bump from 2018 when only 34 percent of registered voters cast their ballots. Also worth noting that the state has added over 181,000 voters to the rolls since the last primary election.
As for the breakdown for this year's primary on a county level, Multnomah is pretty average, with 43.6 percent of voters doing their civic duty. That's just a notch above Washington County's turnout (43.21 percent) and well above nearby Clackamas County's 35.77 percent. Feels pretty good until you realize that Wallowa County got nearly 67 percent of their voting population to return their ballots.
Now back to whiskey and waiting.—RH
Update, 9:56 pm:
Whoever wins the Democratic primary for Secretary of State will face off against Republican Kim Thatcher, who believes undocumented immigrants "wreak havoc on our society," in the general election. And Secretary of State is the one statewide office currently held by a Republican.—BS
Update, 9:54 pm:
The Mercury staff is over this fucking virtual election COVID-19 bullshit. I agree. —BS
Update 9:42 pm:
With 42 percent of votes now in, it's still a coin toss over who will join Mary Nolan in a runoff for the Metro District 5 race. Chris Smith and Cameron Whitten are within two percentage points of each other. Bob Stacey, meanwhile, is on his way to easily being re-elected to his Metro District 6 seat. —BS
Update 9:40 pm:
With 42 percent of the votes in statewide, here’s an update on where things stand on the tight races.
For Portland City Commissioner, Position 4, things are pretty much where they were at 8 pm. Chloe Eudaly leads both Sam Adams and Mingus Mapps by a scant two percentage points—so we’ll be watching closely to see who goes to the runoff.
In the Portland mayor’s race, Ted Wheeler still leads but hovers at almost 49 percent, just shy of the majority he needs to skirt a November runoff.
And the Secretary of State contest is gonna be a true squeaker, with Mark Hass barely holding the lead with 37 percent, versus Shemia Fagan’s 35 percent. This is the race to watch! (Unless you’re sleepy and want to go to bed. It’s been a long day. You look tired! Politics will still be here in the morning.)—WSH
Update 9:35 pm:
Here in Portland, electoral politics are basically all-Democratic, all the time. But I thought I would check in on results for the Republican primary to replace longtime US Rep. Greg Walden. It looks like our old buddy Knute Buehler isn't doing too well! —BS
Update 9:30 pm:
Mike Schmidt, our presumptive Multnomah County District Attorney-elect (PMCDAE, for, um, short), may look like a J. Crew model, but he’s got the heart of a criminal justice reformer.
“I know we can do things better,” Schmidt says in his Facebook live video. “We can work on decreasing disparity, we can try to make our jails and our prisons not be homeless shelters [and] not be our biggest drug treatment facilities.”
“The breadth of support for this campaign has been truly overwhelming,” he adds, before quickly wrapping up. —BS
Mingus Mapps is eating Sizzle Pie with his kids (sitting in front of three laptops) as the results roll in.
"I feel great!" Mapps, candidate for City Commissioner, position 4, tells me. "The race is as close as can be. We are holding steady in second place by a hair."
Mapps, a political newcomer, says he's particularly proud to be neck and neck with a former mayor (Sam Adams, who he's currently beating by .36 percentage points). The men are trailing incumbent Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who's grabbed 30% of the vote.
Mapps says the support of his campaign proves that Portlanders want change. They want someone who can "bring everyone to the table."
It's clearly going to be a runoff. But between who? Mapps said he's prepared to stay up until 11:30 pm to find out. "This is the race that’s going to keep people up at night," he says.
Meanwhile, the Adams campaign says they won't be available for comment until tomorrow morning. —AZ
Update 9:25 pm:
Mike Schmidt, our presumptive Multnomah County District Attorney-elect (say that five times fast), is going live on Facebook soon. You can tune in here.—BS
Update 9:23 pm:
With over 16 percent of the votes counted, it looks as if the bond to help fund upgrades to many Centennial School District buildings is set to pass. This will help feed $65 million into the coffers for sorely-needed repairs as well as helping build gyms at four elementary schools in the district. It's a nice turnaround from 2016 when voters shot down a similar bond measure.
While that's all well and good, this is truly the story of this election night:
Update 8:45 pm:
First things first, I’ve finished my dinner of Super Nachos with carnitas and have moved on to a tumbler of vodka chased with sea salt chocolate. Yum. Now let’s check out some state and federal results!
- Secretary of State (Democrat): It’s a verrrrry tight race with Mark Hass leading at 37 percent, oh-so-closely followed by the Mercury endorsed Shemia Fagan, who is trailed by Jamie McLeod-Skinner with 27 percent. This is one to watch!
- State Senator, 18th District: Democrat Ginny Burdick is taking this race with 71 percent of the vote, trailed at a distance by Ben Bowman with only 29 percent.
- US Representative, 1st District: Suzanne Bonamici has handily won this race with 85 percent of the vote, and… well, because I’m a kind person I won’t speak of the other challengers.
- US Representative, 3rd District: Likewise, the beloved Earl Blumenauer has taken this race as well, and the only person in eyeshot is the Mercury endorsed Albert Lee with a mere 15 percent of the vote. Oh well. Love ya, Albert!
- US Representative, 4th District: It’s all Peter DeFazio in this race (85 percent), trailed from a distance by Doyle Elizabeth Canning with 14 percent.
- US Representative, 5th District: As Blair mentioned earlier, Milwaukie’s Mark Gamba has already conceded this race to the clear winner, Kurt Schrader who has 70 percent of the vote.
AND NOW, THE MOMENT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR….
Oregon’s Democratic nominee for President of the United States will be… what’s this?!? A young upstart who’s come out of nowhere by the name of “Joe Biden”?? WHO IS THIS BRASH YOUNG MAN WITH ALL THE BIG IDEAS? In any case, this Biden person received a whopping 69 percent of the vote, so I guess my protest vote for Elizabeth Warren can just go eat a big pile of shit.
Update 8:49 pm:
The race for Metro District 5 is probably going to go to a runoff—right now, it looks like it's a question of whether transportation wonk Chris Smith or activist and Q Center Director Cameron Whitten will join Mary Nolan in that runoff.
I called Nolan, and she's cautiously optimistic, noting that "nothing's done until they finish counting the votes." She spent election day phone banking with campaign volunteers, and then her husband and daughter made her "a nice dinner." Her virtual campaign evening consists of "a lot of texting, [and] a little bit of FaceTiming."
Chris Smith, meanwhile, is "waiting for next update from Multnomah County," per a text. He added this excited emoji: 🤗 —BS
Update 8:45 pm:
It's worth reiterating just how jam-packed, and close, the race for Metro's District 5 seat is. All five candidates are getting a respectable portion of the vote, but former state legislator Mary Nolan looks poised to break ahead of the pack. —BS
Update 8:44 pm:
Iannarone feels confident that progressive Portlanders are showing up to "reject a re-election bid" for Wheeler. "Our goal has always been to get this to a runoff," she says. Iannarone collected just 11% of the vote in her 2016 run for mayor. She credits her current 21% to the Open & Accountable Elections program, which allowed her to reach more voters with public campaign dollars. — AZ
Update 8:39 pm:
Milwaukie mayor Mark Gamba has already conceded his bid to unseat US Rep. Kurt Schrader. But he's setting his sights on another run in 2022, per a press release. "This is not the end of anything, this is just the beginning," Gamba says in the statement. —BS
Update 8:35 pm:
BREAKING: Sarah Iannarone has a dog named Sir Francis Bacon. Also, Iannarone is cautiously optimistic about the first numbers rolling in. With 21% of the vote, she's in second place in the race to unseat Mayor Ted Wheeler (who's collected 48%). She's talking about the results like she's expecting a runoff: "We got work to do in terms of what's going to happen on the other side of this. We're going to go from a huge field [of candidates] to two." —AZ
Update 8:35 pm:
Multnomah County District Attorney candidate Mike Schmidt is claiming victory on his Facebook page.
Fun fact: Schmidt is endorsed by both the Mercury and John Legend! Jury's out on who Chrissy Teigen supports.
Update 8:30 pm:
Here are the latest numbers for the county, Metro, and ballot races you’re interested in.
- Multnomah County Commissioner, District 1: Unless an asteroid hits the earth (and since it’s 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised), Sharon Meieran has taken this race with 89 percent of the vote.
- Metro Councilor, District 5: In this hotly contested race, Mary Nolan has taken the lead with 36 percent, followed with a strong showing from activist Cameron Whitten with 20 percent, and Karen Spencer currently in third with 14 percent.
- Metro Councilor, District 6: We have another probable winner with Bob Stacey, who is swamping Leigha Lafleur by bringing in 71 percent of the vote.
- Gas Tax Renewal: Though early, I think it’s safe to call it—Portland has said “yes” to renew the tax that would pay for street repair, maintenance, and safety, with 77 percent of the vote.
- Homeless Services: Another potential winner is the support for a homeless service tax that will be paid for by rich folk and businesses. It’s currently leading at 28 percent over 21 percent who are voting “no.”
Stay tuned for state and Democratic presidential results. (OH, WHO COULD IT BE?)—WSH
Update 8:30 pm:
Portland's gas tax renewal is passing easily with 76 percent of people voting "Yes" so far. The Portland Bureau of Transportation sent out a press release thanking Portlanders for their votes:
"The passage of Measure 26-209 will bring millions of dollars into our economy over the next four years as we continue the work of fixing our streets. As we emerge from the impacts of Covid-19, this investment will be more valuable than ever. Whether it’s paving our streets, filling potholes, improving street lighting, building sidewalks or helping our youngest Portlanders safely walk, bike and roll to school, this program is for you." —BS
Update 8:25 pm:
Carmen Rubio is the evidentiary winner for City Council Position 1. I caught Rubio on the phone in between Zoom interviews—she tells me she's "thrilled, and just so honored." She adds that the "impressive" slate of candidates in her race—and all four City Council races—"speaks to the deep desire for change."
Rubio will be the first Latinx woman to serve on Portland City Council. "I think about my grandparents, who came to this country for a better life for their children," she says. "For me, this just feels full circle."—BS
Personal update 8:25 pm:
I'm getting Zoom whiplash. WHY CAN'T THESE ZOOMS ALL ZOOM IN THE SAME ZOOM? — AZ
Update 8:18 pm:
HereTogether folks—the campaign behind the Metro homeless services measure—are already celebrating. Early results show the measure has 64 percent support in Multnomah County and 52 percent in Washington County.
The campaign's pollster Kevin Looper says, "There's certainly no reason for anything but optimism based on those numbers." (It should be noted that the campaign seems to be losing at 46 percent in Clackamas County).
Katrina Holland, director of JOIN and lead advocate for the Metro measure, is joined with her adorable daughter to applaud the positive results. "We did it, y'all!" says Holland.—AZ
Update 8:10 pm:
And the first results of the night have dropped, and as expected, there are surprises within. Let’s check the Portland races first:
- Portland Mayor: In the mayor’s race, incumbent Ted Wheeler is off to a strong start with 52 percent of the vote, followed by Sarah Iannarone with 22 percent, and Teressa Raiford in a distant third with 7 percent.
- City Council Position 1: Carmen Rubio roars into the lead with 67 percent of the vote. Candace Avalos is coming in second (though far back) with a scant 8 percent.
- City Council Position 2: This is the tightest local race thus far with the top tier of candidates within mere points of each other. Loretta Smith leads with 19 percent, followed by Dan Ryan at 17 percent, the Mercury-endorsed Tera Hurst at 14 percent, and Julia Degraw and Sam Chase neck and neck at 12 percent.
- City Council Position 4: And position four is gonna be a squeaker: Incumbent Chloe Eudaly currently leads at 30 percent, quickly trailed by former mayor Sam Adams at 28 percent, while Mingus Mapps is breathing down his neck at 27 percent. Looks like we’re gonna have us a runoff!
- District Attorney: In the District Attorney race, Mike Schmidt is running away with it taking in (so far) a whopping 76 percent of the vote, trailed distantly by Ethan Knight who's limping into the race with 24 percent.
Stay tuned for Metro and state results!—WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Update 8:04 pm:
Early results are in for Team Pham: She's leading with 86 percent of the vote so far. People are chanting "Khanhspiracy!" and "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge is playing. Here's the candidate herself dancing:
"My heart is beating a hundred times a minute right now," says Pham, who will be the first Asian American to represent Southeast Portland's Jade District in the Oregon Legislature. "We just made history." —BS
Update 7:56 pm:
Candace Avalos’ Zoom is back in action, and she’s taking the hacking in good stride.
“Why don’t we let people who we don’t know one at a time?” an attendee suggests. “This is more stressful than the election!” Avalos quips with a laugh. —BS
Update 7:50 pm:
Checking in on Teressa Raiford, who began crying at the end of her election night party. "I'm crying like a baby, but that's only for the people who are supporting me. I hope I win because I want to serve y'all. Thank you and goodnight." Mini news: Raiford says there's a line around the corner at Multnomah County Elections Office. We're five minutes away from the first round of results, all!—AZ
Update 7:48 pm:
Dipping back in to Khanh Pham's Zoom party, and they've got this delightful poll going. #KHANHSPIRACY2020—BS
Update 7:46 pm:
Candace Avalos, a candidate for Portland City Council Position 1 (that’s the race to replace retiring Commissioner Amanda Fritz), is hosting her own Zoom party tonight. It was juuuuust getting started when it got hacked, and my computer screen filled up with porn and someone shouting racial slurs (really wish I was kidding!). *Deletes half-completed sentence about how nice and relaxing Zoom parties are* Avalos shut things down quickly, so hopefully things will go better during Take 2. —BS
Update 7:40 pm:
Popped into Sarah Iannarone's livestream election party. Currently zoning out to a slideshow backed by the soothing tunes of DJ Chaach NYC (who has an excellent plant collection) while I finished my Election Night Tuna Melt. Now it's onto an Ask Me Anything with Iannarone and campaign manager Gregory McKelvey. Stay tuned. — ALEX ZIELINSKI
Update 7:15 pm:
Khanh Pham, whom I think we can safely call the favorite in tonight’s House District 46 race, is getting an early start with a Zoom party that began at 7:15.
Party emcee Damon Motz-Storey is opening the party by playing Mitski, so points for that. Damon’s using a backdrop from what I think is Pham’s campaign launch party, from the Before Times:
Attendees are being prompted to share one word about how they feel about Pham’s campaign in the Zoom chat. Answers include “jittery,” “nervous,” “excited,” and “awesome.”—BLAIR STENVICK