Because 1.5 million Oregonians voted by mail before election day, initial results Tuesday night were conclusive, showing solid victories by Hillary Clinton for president and Governor Kate Brown for re-election.
Results also showed Measure 97, which would have subjected large corporation to a gross receipts tax, was headed for defeat despite earlier polling showing support.
Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon’s five Members of Congress and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum cruised to re-election.
Dennis Richardson became the first Oregon Republican in decades to capture a state constitutional office as he defeated Democrat Brad Avakian in an open race for secretary of state. Gordon Smith was the last Republican to win a statewide office when he was elected U.S. senator in 2002.
Tobias Read held a lead to become Oregon treasurer, benefitting from a strong showing by independent Chris Telfer. The combined total votes for Telfer, a former Republican legislator, and GOP candidate Jeff Gudman exceeded Read’s total.
In many ways, Measure 97 overshadowed everything else on the Oregon ballot. Its proponents said the projected $3 billion in annual new tax revenue was needed to fund K-12 schools adequately and prevent cuts in health care and senior services because of a looming budget hole in the next biennium. Opponents said the tax would stifle Oregon’s business growth and wind up raising prices for Oregon consumers.
The defeat of Measure 97 doesn’t spell the end of a tax debate, but it narrows options and rules out anything as large as the initiative proposed.
Democrats will retain control of both the House and Senate, but they lost their 36-vote supermajority in the House and may not gain one in the Senate. Democrats need a three-fifths supermajority in both chambers to pass tax measures without any Republican votes.
One of the more popular and successful measures on local ballots imposed restrictions or sales taxes on recreational marijuana retailing. Clackamas County elected Jim Bernard as its new commission chair. Portlanders broke precedent and unseated City Commissioner Steve Novick.