(Update: Adding video, updated results)
Thatcher, Hass win in race for secretary of state; Chang easily wins Democrat race for Deschutes County Commission; Jefferson County room tax hike loses
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Former state Sen. Cliff Bentz of Ontario Tuesday night won the high-profile, high-spending four-way race for the Republican nomination to succeed veteran GOP U.S. Rep. Greg Walden in the sprawling 2nd Congressional District.
In the primary results, as of Wednesday morning, Bentz had nearly 31 percent of the vote to more than 22 percent for Bend former state Rep. Knute Buehler, nearly 20 percent for former state Senator Jason Atkinson and 18 percent for Tumalo businessman Jimmy Crumpacker. Among other candidates, Travis Fager had about 3.5 percent, Jeff Smith about 2 percent and Bend City Councilor Justin Livingston had 1 percents.
When the results became clear, Buehler issued this statement Tuesday night:
"A few minutes ago I called to congratulate Cliff Bentz on his victory tonight. Cliff is a good man and a strong legislator. His deep roots in CD will serve us all well in Congress. I strongly endorse Cliff and encourage all Republicans to rally behind him to keep CD2 Republican in 2020. Congrats to Cliff, his family and all his supporters."
Walden also issued a statement of congratulations:
"I want to congratulate Cliff Bentz on his win tonight to be the Republican nominee for Oregon's Second District," said Walden. "Cliff is a friend who I have had the pleasure to work with closely on many critical issues confronting the constituents of Oregon's Second District; including combating the opioid epidemic, ensuring access to public lands, and modernizing our federal forest policies.
"I know that Cliff, a lifelong Oregonian, will be a strong advocate for our communities, families and the way of life that we treasure. As a rancher from Eastern Oregon, I know that he understands the needs and challenges of our rural communities better than most. Beyond the ranch, his experience as a lawyer as well as a state legislator showcase his ability to navigate policy and politics.
"This job is no walk in the park, and with such an expansive district the windshield time and the miles tracked are substantial, but I am confident Cliff will excel at the task. Oregon's Second District Congressional seat is sure to stay red and with Cliff I know it is in good hands. I am confident when I say that Cliff is sure to be the Second District's next Congressman. Congratulations Cliff!"
On the Democrat side, it remained a tight race between the top two of four candidates, with Alex Spenser moving from behind to lead at 32 percent to just under 31 percent for Nick (Nik) Heuertz, separated by less than 1,000 votes, followed by Chris Vaughn with about 18 percent and the other two candidates, Jack Howard and John Holm, at about 8 percent each.
Drawing little attention so far this year is that Sen. Jeff Merkley is running for re-election, with four Republicans -- Paul Romero Jr., Robert Schwartz, Jo Rae Perkins and John Verbeek -- vying to take him on in the fall. Perkins won with 49 percent of the vote to about 30 percent for Romero, about 11 percent for Schwartz and about 8 percent for Verbeek.
Although former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat nominee for president, had more than 67 percent of the vote, Bernie Sanders took nearly 20 percent of the vote and Elizabeth Warren almost 10 percent, despite ending their campaigns weeks ago. President Trump had nearly 94 percent of the GOP vote, with about 6 percent write-ins.
As for the secretary of state's race, Kim Thatcher easily won the Republican nod, with 85 percent of the vote to Dave Stauffer's 14 percent. Among the Democrats, state Senator and former TV reporter Mark Hass led with 36 percent to fellow state Senator Shemia Fagan's 35 percent and Jamie McLeod-Skinner's 28 percent.
In Deschutes County results, Phil Chang had a commanding lead over two other candidates for the Democratic nomination to take on GOP county Commissioner Phil Henderson this fall. Chang had nearly 85 percent of the vote by Wednesday to about 11 percent for Greg Bryant and about 3.5 percent for Ron (Rondo) Boozell.
Despite the economic uncertainty of the times, Redmond Fire and Rescue's first local option levy request to maintain service levels passed handily by a 2-to-1 ratio, nearly 66 percent yes to 34 percent no.
The Black Butte Ranch Service District's five-year local option levy to maintain 24-hour patrols gained even stronger voter support, with nearly 76 percent in favor.
But La Pine Park and Rec's five-year local option levy request was defeated, with 58 percent of voters in favor and nearly 42 percent opposed.
In Jefferson County races, county commissioner Wayne Fording lost to challenger Kim Schmith, 44 to 34 percent, but both candidates head to a November runoff, since neither garnered the required 50 percent for an outright primary win. Kenneth (Kenny) Bicart garnered about 21 percent of the vote. A proposed room tax increase was defeated, about 58 to 42 percent.