[EDITOR'S NOTE: Wooo-whee! There are a mess of elections on the table tonight, including the governor’s primary race, a run for the Multnomah County sheriff’s office, and a number of City Council seats up for grabs. It’s bound to be spicy.
Before we dive in, however, it’s important we point out how this election night will be different than previous years. In the past, we usually had a firm grasp on which candidates had won each race by the night’s end. This year, because of a new state law, this probably won’t be the case. As we explained in this very useful election primer, the new law allows ballots postmarked by May 17 to be counted by election officials up until seven days after the election—meaning the ballot counts won’t be final until May 24 at the earliest. There’s no telling how many ballots are being mailed in today, so it’s pretty impossible to estimate how many ballots won’t be included in tonight’s tallies. Because we can’t predict the future (yet!), you shouldn’t expect any final election results here until next week.
But! That won’t stop the Mercury Election Strike Force (Alex Zielinski, Isabella Garcia, Suzette Smith, and Wm. Steven Humphrey) from continuing to cover election night shenanigans. Our reporters will be on the ground at a number of the candidates' parties and we’ll be following other gatherings online, along with the early ballot counts coming from the local and state elections offices. Tune in as we swing through the first in-person election night parties since COVID-19, and keep you up to date on this brave new world of election night news. MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON OUR ETERNAL SOULS—if you believe in such things.] Scroll down for earlier updates!
UPDATE 10:15 PM
While Jamie McLeod Skinner has an impressive lead in the US House, District 5 race, incumbent Kurt Schrader is hanging on thanks to the possibility of a mail-in vote surge as well as the botched ballot debacle in Clackamas County, which will take god-knows-how-long to tally.
Other runoff possibilities: Christina Stephenson may be facing off with either Cheri Helt or Casey Kulla in the race for state Labor Commissioner, while Lynn Peterson—despite her large lead—may be facing Alisa Pyszka in November (thanks, no thanks, Clackamas County).
In the race for GOP gubernatorial nominee, State Representative Christine Drazan has the lead at 23 percent—but the overall ballot numbers are remarkably low. Whoever wins this race will face Kotek and Independent candidate Sen. Betsy Johnson in November.
The most exciting runoff for November will undoubtedly be the Portland City Council race in which incumbent Jo Ann Hardesty will face one of two “pick your poison” contenders: Rene Gonzalez or Vadim Mozyrsky—both heavily endorsed by the police union and wealthy developers, respectively. We'll have more information on who that contender is as more ballots filter in.
We've just heard from County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, who is leading in the Multnomah County Chair race with 38 percent of the vote.
"Votes are still being counted, and I am so grateful to every single Multnomah County voter who has supported my campaign," says Pederson in an emailed statement. "Their confidence in my vision of a county that works for every community is what has motivated me. I know that together, we will be able to deliver real change."
The night’s big winners: Democratic nominee for governor, Tina Kotek; Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell becoming Multnomah County’s first woman sheriff; Thuy Tran taking the House District 45 seat; Commissioner Susheela Jayapal has won her re-election campaign with a whopping 77 percent of the vote, Dan Ryan holding tight to his city council seat, and Simone Rede is Portland’s next City Auditor.
UPDATE 9:40 PM
Let's jam on some more election results (or at least what we know now):
• For State Rep, 41st District, Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba has a commanding lead (74%) over Kaliko Castille (24%)—sooo that might be all she wrote on that race.
• And in the State Rep, 45th District race, Thuy Tran is having a "Mark Gamba" kind of night, leading Catherine Thomasson 71% to 28%.
• And in the very full race for Labor Commissioner, Christina Stephenson has the clear lead (47%) over her nearest competition: Cheri Helt (19%) and Casey Kulla (14%). For the record, we endorsed Christina, but Casey is a goddamn sweetheart! (*Swoon*)—WSH
UPDATE 9:30 PM
A bunch of happy local Democrats are celebrating at Revolution Hall. I ran into Metro President Lynn Peterson, who is in the lead in the race to keep her seat. She says she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the results, but doesn't want to jinx it (she's been burnt before, allegedly). She took the opportunity to diss the Clackamas County’s election office, which is struggling to update its election results.
“You can quote me on that,” she tells me, sipping some clear-colored cocktail.
She says she's “gratified” by the nights overall election results, and says it shows that “the region has worked hard to fill in the gaps” amid COVID, a housing crisis, and other issues.—AZ
UPDATE 9:25 PM
You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here—the bar at Hardesty’s party is calling last call.
Hardesty’s campaign manager Joseph Santos-Lyons tells me that he only expects Hardesty’s lead to grow as more mail-in ballots arrive because late voters tend to be younger and working class folks.
Given the current results, a runoff with one of Hardesty’s challengers is likely. Santos-Lyons says Hardesty will have a couple weeks to rest and focus on the city’s budget cycle before before jumping back into campaign mode this summer.
While trying to write these updates, folks keep pulling me aside to tell me how much they love Hardesty.
“I’m very demanding, I’m very cynical,” Edith tells me before pointing at Hardesty. “I love her.”
Hardesty is able to secure one last lemon drop before the bar closes.—IG
UPDATE 9:20 PM
Here's a bit of a happy shocker:
• Brash upstart Jamie McCleod-Skinner has a nice lead (60%) over the pharma-backed incumbent Kurt Schrader (at 39%) for the US Representative, 5th District seat. (This is where I remind you we'll be counting mail-in ballots for the next few days, so don't get too excited... but, you know... get excited.)—WSH
UPDATE 9:05 PM
Tina Kotek is on the stage at Revolution Hall. The crowd chants “Tina, Tina!” as she approaches the podium. She thanks her wife, volunteers, and others in community who supported her. She said she just spoke with her opponent Tobias Read who just conceded the race. She says “We're going to make sure that I win in November, because frankly too much is at stake. This will be an election like we've never seen.”
After explaining how Oregonians of all parties care about what she cares about (ending homelessness, creating affordable housing, addressing gun violence) Kotek asks “where's the champagne?” She toasts to: “Let's get it done in November!”—AZ
UPDATE 9 PM
Let's check in on some of those Metro races:
• Metro Council President: Incumbent Lynn Pederson has a healthy lead (56%) over her major challenger Alisa Pyszka (32%). BTW, during our endorsement interview, Pyszka said she was running so she could bring "all voices" to the table. (Psst! But she mostly meant the wealthy developers that have been bending the ears of City Hall for decades. Don't tell anybody!)
• Metro Council, Dist. 2: Christine Lewis has run away with her race against Mei Wong, with a whopping 80% to 19% of the vote.
• Metro Council, Dist. 6: Meanwhile Duncan Hwang is also a runaway, bringing in 67% to Terri Preeg Riggsby's 32%.—WSH
UPDATE 8:53 PM
Dan Ryan is taking selfies with jubilant attendees. We ask how he felt going into an election night with the possibility of the numbers still changing.
“Well, we had two sources,” he says. “We wouldn’t have come out here—I wouldn’t have made that speech if we weren’t sure.”
He mentions his primary against Loretta Smith in 2020, saying that they waited for days with that election to be sure of the results.
With the 2020 primary, Ryan declared victory the next morning—he was ahead 5,000 votes, with 95% of ballots tallied.
“So yeah, this is very rare!” Ryan says about the lead he has.
“NBC just called Tina [Kotek],” McHugh cuts in.
“Wow, that’s big.” Ryan says appreciatively.—SS
UPDATE 8:50 PM
The first round of results are in and Hardesty is holding a very slight lead with 38 percent of the vote, compared to Rene González’s 25 percent and Vadim Mozyrsky’s 24 percent.
“You told the rich power interests, ‘Not on my watch,’” Hardesty said.
Hardesty is thanking volunteers and all of her staff, during which she says they will “be doing this for four more years.”
It’s a total love fest over here—lots of hugging, “I love you”’s, and cute stories about Hardesty’s staff’s children calling her “boss.”
“I have no doubt this is the calmest day I’ve have over the past three years,” Hardesty said.
Speeches are wrapping up and the music is back on. Kendall Holladay is DJing— the theme is 70s funk and Motown. Hardesty specifically requested “Josie” by Steely Dan.—IG
UPDATE 8:45 PM
Meanwhile in the state races:
• Democratic Governor: Tina Kotek takes an early strong lead over Tobias Reed, 55% to 33%.
• And in the Republican Governor race: Christine Drazan (24%) has a small lead over Bob Tiernan (19%), followed by a bunch of abortion-hating losers no one cares about.—WSH
UPDATE 8:39 PM
Here's the latest results from the City of Portland races:
• City of Portland Auditor: Simone Rede is running away from Brian Setzler with 79% of the vote.
• Portland Commissioner, #2: Likewise Dan Ryan is, as expected, also running away with his race pulling in 58% over AJ McCreary's 23%.
• Portland Commissioner, #3: And Jo Ann Hardesty has a healthy lead over her two heavily funded competitors, bringing in 38% over the Portland Biz Alliance's poster boy Vadim Mozyrsky's 24%, and the police union's current sweetheart Rene Gonzalez' 25%. (Can you tell who I'm rooting for in this race?)—WSH
UPDATE 8:28 PM
“KATU is calling it with 57 percent!" shouts Ryan’s campaign manager T.J McHugh. The room explodes in applause. Dan Ryan notes that his partner isn't here tonight because they’re seeing Peaches at the Wonder Ballroom.
He notes that he and his partner plan to be married in September.
Ryan makes it clear he has no idea about Peaches (as in "The Teaches of Peaches"). He thanks the city for voting and vows to “get this city out of the ditch that it’s in.”
Ryan thanks his opponents because “they put themselves out there.” Then notes that anyone who voted for someone else, “you are my constituents also.”—SS
UPDATE 8:25 PM
Here are some of the early results in the Multnomah County races:
• Multnomah County Chair: Jessica Vega Pederson currently leads with 38% of the vote, followed by Sharon Meiren with 19%.
• Multnomah County Sheriff: Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell has an early nice lead over Derrick Peterson, 66% to 33%.
• Multnomah County Commissioner, District 2: Susheela Jayapal has a huge lead with 77% of the vote so far.—WSH
UPDATE 8:10 PM
The early results are in! None of the candidates at this party are in the lead at their races. They're currently all in hiding “upstairs” and will allegedly re-emerge soon. Meanwhile, two people who are not running for office have already let me know what they’ll do when they're elected to city council, so.—AZ
UPDATE 8 PM
A crowd of about 40 people are gathered at the Redwood in Montavilla for Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty’s election night party. Most of the crowd is sitting outside at street tables, a product of PBOT’s healthy business program that Hardesty recently moved to make permanent.
Hardesty says she is feeling pretty relaxed—she prepared for tonight with weeks of campaigning, a 90 minute massage, and a nice dinner.
“I’ve done everything I can do,” Hardesty said. “Now it’s up to the voters. I work hard every day, but Election Day is for the voters.”
Alex Davis, a volunteer with the campaign, said he’s been reaching out to voters about Hardesty’s campaign. Despite people’s frustration with the issues Portland is facing, Davis said most people he’s talked with have been supportive of the incumbent.
“If we re-elected the mayor in 2020 while Portland was facing backlash, why can’t we re-elect Hardesty?” Davis said.—IG
UPDATE 7:55 PM
Ryan’s team had a temperature check (like literally, with a temp gun) on the way in. I was told “about half of the room” was wearing masks, but it looks like a lot of them have given up.—SS
UPDATE 7:50 PM
Just swung through the crowd at the Grand Stark Hotel, which is SWANKY, y'all. Caught City Council candidate Vadim Mozyrsky between hand shaking. He tells me that “no matter what happens tonight, it's a success.” He's spent the past couple days sign-waving and chatting with businesses.
I'm out on the patio now where folks are gossiping about the new Election Day mailed ballot law and the USPS box that was stolen from SE portland yesterday.
Oh and folks are snacking on pizza-adjacent snacks and cupcakes. I'm captivated by this wall art.—AZ
UPDATE 7:45 PM
Commissioner Dan Ryan’s campaign team is holding his election party at the Portland Firefighters Union Hall in Southwest. Since this is a union hall, there are actual local firemen staffing the bar (!). There’s Stoller wines, Breakside beer, and Montucky Coldsnacks—plus, lime and plain LaCroix. Ryan’s communications person Margaux Weeke hadn’t actually been in the other room with the snacks spread—but intuited through smell that it was “cheesy.”
“Cheesy good or cheesy bad?” we asked.
“Oh, cheesy like it has cheese,” she replied.
She was correct because the event wast was catered by Montage, so the food is 75 percent macaroni and cheese.—SS
UPDATE 7:40 PM
Meanwhile, back here at Mercury Election Central™ (my stupid kitchen table), I'll be keeping an eye on all the returns as they come in tonight and providing the numbers as well as unasked for commentary. As you will soon see, I am often annoying, haughty, and occasionally infuriating... but I am also festive. Hey. I just noticed that a LOT of you are currently reading our Mercury Election Cheat Sheet and Endorsements... and since the results start dropping at 8 pm, aren't you cutting it a bit close? Stand by for the latest!
UPDATE 7:30 PM
Just stopped by the ballot drop box on SE Belmont, where at least 20 cars are backed up in line to drop off their ballots. As folks dump their ballot in the box, friendly election volunteers say “Thank you for voting!” It’s very wholesome, in a democratic way.—AZ