Statewide: Progressive Women Win Big, Republican Races Remain Tight

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By Julia Shumway

Progressive women won big in Oregon’s Democratic primaries Tuesday, while contested Republican races remained close with many ballots left to count.

Former House Speaker Tina Kotek won the Democratic primary for governor. Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, state Rep. Andrea Salinas and attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner are winning their congressional primaries. McLeod-Skinner was on her way to defeating an incumbent Congressman, a rare feat in Oregon politics.

And Portland civil rights attorney Christina Stephenson is leading the nonpartisan race for commissioner of the state Bureau of Labor and Industries. If she remains above 50%, she’ll win outright; otherwise she will head to a runoff in November.

Heading into Tuesday night, election officials and candidates warned that results might not be known until later in the week. Wide-open races for governor and two Congressional districts, a new law allowing counting of ballots postmarked by Election Day and an unexpected ballot printing error in one of the state’s largest counties all contributed to general uncertainty heading into election night.

Ballots are printed with barcodes that can be read by a machine to identify which races are on a particular ballot. In Clackamas County, about two-thirds of the ballots returned had blurred barcodes.

Bipartisan teams of election workers have to copy the defective ballots by hand onto paper ballots that can be read by the county’s tallying machines. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, who visited Clackamas County with other state election officials Tuesday to watch the ballot copying process, said in a statement that the county may be slower to report results on Tuesday.

“We are confident they will report accurate results,” Fagan said Tuesday afternoon.

See the Oregon Capital Chronicle for the complete statewide results.