Updated: May 24

As ballots were still being counted and results still rolling in, Tuesday’s election saw several progressive candidates losing or slated for a runoff in November against more centrist and conservative opponents. 

In an election where Multnomah County’s homeless crisis, livability, addiction, and behavioral health issues were centered in nearly every local campaign, voters appear soured by a perceived lack of progress from current leaders.

The Multnomah County district attorney’s race saw longtime prosecutor and former Republican Nathan Vasquez presumably unseat his boss, Mike Schmidt, for the DA seat.

At his election night party Tuesday evening, Schmidt said he’s proud of what he fought for during his four years in office, in a speech that all but confirmed his loss to Vasquez. Vasquez was leading over Schmidt, nearly 56-44 percent in unofficial results late Tuesday. The following day, those margins shifted slightly, with Vasquez leading 53.5 percent to Schmidt's 46 percent.

"This has been a hard fought campaign and we're still counting," Schmidt told a room full of supporters just after 9 pm Tuesday. The outgoing DA acknowledged the unofficial results, which showed him unlikely to pull off a win.

"I'm so grateful to be in here with all of you that know that we can fix a criminal justice system that's been broken since its inception,” Schmidt said. He noted his wife encouraged him to run for re-election to "show our two young boys that win or lose, it is good and it is worthwhile, always, to fight for what is right."

Schmidt conceded Wednesday afternoon, saying that while he and Vasquez don't always see eye to eye, he's "committed to a smooth transition."

Schmidt was elected in 2020 on a platform of criminal justice reform. Three years into his term, Multnomah County voters were inundated with rhetoric about crime rates that surged during the pandemic, a massive increase in drug overdoses, visible homelessness, and urban blight. 

Candidates, including Vasquez, successfully capitalized on the palpable dissatisfaction among residents. 

Vasquez also got an indirect boost from dark money group People For Portland, which launched a smear campaign against Schmidt in 2023, around the same time Vasquez announced his bid for the DA seat. By Tuesday night, the rhetoric about Portland’s downfall won.

Campaign records show Vasquez and Schmidt each spent more than $1 million, marking unusually large spending in a nonpartisan DA's race.

Vasquez maintained a nearly 12-point lead over Schmidt Wednesday morning. The Vasquez campaign has yet to release a statement.

Multnomah County Board of Commissioners

In the race for the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, four seats were up for election this term. 

In District 1, Meghan Moyer and Vadim Mozyrsky will challenge each other in the November runoff. Moyer is a public policy specialist who currently works for Disability Rights Oregon. Mozyrsky is an administrative law judge who previously lost a run for Portland City Council.

Moyer and Mozyrsky faced three other opponents in the District 1 race: Margot Wheeler, Kevin Fitts, and Chris Henry.

“The fight is not over,” Moyer said Tuesday night, after results showed her a few points ahead of Mozyrsky. “Making a runoff after being tremendously outspent just proves we have a winning message; we can fix our community’s most pressing issues without losing compassion for people in crisis. It is time for change, and we can do better...."

Mozyrsky—who has the support of the city's wealthy elite—said he’ll connect with District 1 residents from now until November, to find solutions to homelessness and the county's lack of addiction treatment services, while working to “demand accountability from those who stand in the way of progress.”

Mozyrsky was joined by Vasquez and fellow Multnomah County commissioner candidate Jessie Burke, for a joint election night gathering in downtown Portland,

In District 2, Shannon Singleton clinched a clear win, while former Portland Mayor Sam Adams came in second place, leading Burke by a mere one and a half points. Singleton will advance to a November runoff against Adams. Challengers Nick Hara and Carlos Jermaine Richard each drew less than 5 percent of the vote. 

Singleton, a social worker, formerly served as the interim director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services and now works for a consulting firm.

Jessie Burke, a candidate for the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners,
addresses a crowd at an election night party in downtown Portland. suzette smith

The winner in District 2 will serve the remainder of former County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal’s term, which runs until 2026. Jayapal resigned last fall to launch her campaign for Congress.

In District 3, incumbent Julia Brim-Edwards easily secured a win over challenger T.J. Noddings. Brim-Edwards, a former Nike executive who was elected to the county board in 2023, also serves on the Portland Public Schools Board of Education. 

Noddings, who works as a housing navigator for a nonprofit, ran on a platform of housing affordability and rent control.

In District 4, which represents most of east Multnomah County, including Gresham, Gresham City Councilor Vince Jones-Dixon secured just more than 50 percent of the vote, edging out conservative challenger Brian Knotts, and Timothy O Youker.

Centrist Democrat wins federal race

Maxine Dexter, a physician and current state representative, pulled off a significant win over top challengers Susheela Jayapal and Eddie Morales in the race for Oregon's 3rd Congressional District. Dexter's win came shortly after a large, but secretive boost from the pro-Israel lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which indirectly funded Dexter's campaign by sending the money through a different political action committee. 

Dexter was considered a less progressive candidate than some of the other Democrats in the race, and less likely to oppose giving US aid to Israel during its war with Gaza.  

Dexter will advance to the November election, where she faces Republican Joanna Harbour.