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AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Oregon’s primaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oregon has multiple hotly contested primaries on Tuesday, as well as some that will set the stage for high-profile races in November.

Oregon’s 5th Congressional District is home to one of the top Democratic primaries in the country. It pits Jamie McLeod-Skinner against Janelle Bynum. McLeod-Skinner defeated longtime Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in the 2022 primary by running as a progressive. However, she lost the seat to Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the general election.

Some top Democrats believe that Bynum, who represents Portland’s southeast suburbs in the state House, is more likely to win in a general election. Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek and three Democratic members of Oregon’s U.S. House delegation have endorsed Bynum.

The district will be key to Republicans’ efforts to defend their narrow majority in the U.S. House. Chavez-DeRemer is unopposed in the Republican primary.

Democrats are competing for a rare opening in the Portland-based 3rd Congressional District, a safe Democratic seat for decades. Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, who was first elected in 1996, is retiring, leaving an opening in a district that Joe Biden carried with nearly three-quarters of the vote in the 2020 presidential contest.

One candidate is former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, the sister of U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Susheela Jayapal faces two other well-funded Democratic challengers: state Rep. Maxine Dexter and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales.

Farther south, Republican party leaders are putting their hopes in Monique DeSpain to flip a Democratic seat in the 4th Congressional District. DeSpain, an Air Force veteran, has endorsements from U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Rep. Cliff Bentz, the state’s only Republican congressman. DeSpain faces Amy Ryan Courser, a consultant and former Keizer City Council member, in the Republican primary.

Incumbent Rep. Val Hoyle is running unopposed in the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District. She won just over 50% of the vote in the 2022 general election.

Multnomah County, which is home to Portland, is hosting another race that will have national implications. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt is facing a challenge from a deputy within his own office, Nathan Vasquez.

While the race is nonpartisan, Schmidt had previously run as a progressive prosecutor and has support from the state Working Families Party and Democratic Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Vasquez, a former Republican, has been endorsed by several police associations and former U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, the moderate Democrat who was ousted from office by progressive challenger McLeod-Skinner.

The winner will be elected if they get more than 50% of the vote, which is likely because the only other option is to write in a candidate.

Here’s a look at what to expect on Tuesday:


Oregon’s all-mail primary will be held on Tuesday. With the exception of Malheur County, all polls close at 8 p.m. PT, which is 11 p.m. ET. Some of Malheur County’s polls fall in the Mountain time zone, meaning they close an hour earlier, but the county doesn’t release results until 11 p.m. ET.


The Associated Press will provide coverage for the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, along with primaries for secretary of state, state treasurer and attorney general. Voters will also select nominees for 23 state House races and six state Senate seats. The ballot includes nonpartisan offices, such as county district attorneys and state judges.

Former President Donald Trump is running unopposed, though there is a write-in option on both the Democratic and Republican ballots. Biden faces Marianne Williamson.


In Oregon, political parties can choose who can participate in their primaries, though the two major parties traditionally opt for closed primaries. That means that only voters registered with a political party may participate in that party’s primary. Democrats may not vote in the Republican primary or vice versa. Independent or unaffiliated voters may not participate in either primary.


Oregon’s 66 pledged Democratic delegates are allocated according to the national party’s standard rules. Fifteen at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as are seven PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” The state’s six congressional districts have a combined 44 delegates at stake, which are allocated in proportion to the vote results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

There are 31 delegates at stake in the Republican presidential primary, all of which go to the winner of the primary. Because Trump is the only Republican on the ballot, he will receive all of the state’s GOP delegates.


In the 3rd District open seat, there are five candidates on the Democratic ballot, though the top three fundraisers — Dexter, Jayapal and Morales — represent parts of Multnomah County, which encompasses nearly all of Portland. While most of Multnomah County falls in the 3rd Congressional District, a western sliver falls into the 1st Congressional District. Multnomah County runs along the northern border of the district, just south of Vancouver, Washington.

In the 4th District, DeSpain, the chosen candidate of Republican leadership, appears on the ballot alongside Courser. As of the May 1 filing deadline, DeSpain had raised $273,000 while Courser had raised $27,000.

In the 5th District Democratic primary, McLeod-Skinner, who lives in central Oregon, has a base of support in the southeast corner of the district, especially in the central Oregon city of Bend in Deschutes County. In her last primary, she performed strongly in Clackamas County, home to Oregon City, but Bynum represents part of Clackamas County in the state House.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

Oregon has automatic recounts if the margin between the top two candidates is 0.2% or less. Candidates can request recounts, regardless of the margin, but they must pay for them. The AP may declare a winner in a race that is eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.


As of April 1, there were 3,032,333 registered voters in Oregon. Of those, 33% were Democrats and 24% were Republicans.

In the 2022 Senate race, turnout was 17% of registered voters in the Democratic primary and 12% in the Republican primary.


In the 2022 primary election, the AP first reported results at 11:04 p.m. ET, or four minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 5:48 a.m. ET with about 77% of total votes counted.


As of Tuesday, there will be 168 days until the November general election.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

Leah Askarinam, The Associated Press

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