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Oregon Attracts Lots Of Political Candidates For May's Primary

<p>A voter drops off a ballot at a Multnomah County dropbox in November 2016.</p>

Ann McGarry


A voter drops off a ballot at a Multnomah County dropbox in November 2016.

The filing deadline for major elective office in Oregon passed Tuesday evening without any major surprises.

The governor’s race and the non-partisan contest for state labor commissioner will highlight the May 15 primary.

Supreme Court Judge Meagan Flynn — who was appointed by the governor to her post last year – faces a challenge from Van Pounds. He is a top financial officer for the state Department of Business and Consumer Services.

Gov. Kate Brown is the strong favorite to win her Democratic primary against two challengers. On the Republican side, no fewer than 10 candidates filed to run.

State Rep. Knute Buehler of Bend has been the establishment favorite in the race and has a strong fundraising lead with $1.8 million in the bank.

But many conservative activists say they will support the recent candidacy of retired U.S. Navy pilot Greg Wooldridge or Bend businessman Sam Carpenter.

In the labor commissioner’s race, former Democratic Rep. Val Hoyle has a big fundraising lead. But Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden recently jumped into the nonpartisan race after eyeing the Washington County Commission chairmanship and has been picking up support from his fellow Republicans. Union County Commissioner Jack Howard has also filed to run.

In the legislative races, Democrats are fielding candidates in almost all of the state Senate and House races. 

All told, Democrats hold 18 legislative seats where no Republican filed to run, while only five GOP seats have no Democratic challenger.

Republicans, however, were pleased by one important last-minute candidate. Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer filed about an hour before the deadline for a rematch against Democratic Rep. Janelle Bynum, also of Happy Valley. They waged one of the state’s most expensive and close legislative races in 2016.

Several legislative races look to produce lively primaries. In Jackson County, four Democrats active in the community are running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland. DeBoer has endorsed Jessica Gomez, a Medford businesswoman who has recently been his legislative aide.

On the outer east side of Portland, Democratic Sen. Rod Monroe is being challenged by former Rep. Shemia Fagan and Kayse Jama, who heads an immigrant rights group.

The number of candidates running for the state’s five U.S. House seats jumped dramatically following this year’s turmoil in national politics. All told, 35 candidates filed to run. But all five Oregon incumbents are strongly favored in those races by national political handicappers.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Jeff Mapes is a senior political reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, Jeff covered state and national politics for The Oregonian for nearly 32 years. He has covered numerous presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and ballot measure campaigns, as well as many sessions of the Legislature, stretching back to 1985. Jeff graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in journalism.