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Bynum easily defeats McLeod-Skinner in 5th District; Phil Chang tops 3 challengers; Bend-La Pine Schools levy fails

(Update: Updated with Wednesday results, Deschutes County voter surge last 2 days)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum handily defeated her Democratic rival for the U.S. House Fifth District nomination, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, in Tuesday’s primary election, while Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang fended off three challengers and the Bend-La Pine Schools’ 5-year operating levy was defeated by a strong margin.

Bynum won by a nearly 70-30 ratio in the closely watched bid to take on first-term Fifth District Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, whom McLeod-Skinner lost to in 2022 and who is uncontested in the GOP primary. Bynum and Chavez-DeRemer are heading into a closely watched fall race that could play a role in which party controls the House.

In the Second District, incumbent Rep. Cliff Bentz easily defeated GOP challenger and Prineville Mayor Jason Beebe, 82-18%, in an election with turnout well below 50% and with the major-party presidential races locked up for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.

Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang, who needed to top 50% in the four-way race for the newly non-partisan seat to win a second term, had 61% of the votes to 26% for Rob Imhoff, 10% for Judy Trego and 2% for Brian Huntamer.

Bend-La Pine Schools’ first attempt at a five-year local option levy to preserve some 180 positions that may be eliminated due to declining state funding tied to enrollment declines, as well as to fund more career-technical classes, failed 57-43% in the results as of Wednesday morning.

The La Pine Rural Fire District’s 5-year operating levy and 10-year capital levy renewal both passed by a 2-to-1 margin in the early vote count, while the Crook County School District’s safety and repair bond was defeated, 53-47%.

Jefferson County voters gave a split result to a pair of measures from the Madras Aquatic Center and Recreation District, approving dissolving the current district, 53-47% – but that was only if they also approved forming and funding a new district, which was defeated 54-46%.

Jefferson County voters passed a $14.5 million bond measure for expanding and upgrading fire stations and equipment, 58-42%.

Redmond voters strongly approved three city charter amendments, one to prohibit spouses or other close family members from both serving as mayor and/or city councilors at the same time, another to change the mayor’s term from two years to four years and limit the person to two consecutive terms, and a third to set city councilor term limits as two consecutive four-year terms.

Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford, whose position recently shifted from county judge in a governance change, was leading challenger Ken Fahlgren 44-40% in Wednesday’s tally. But since neither of them topped 50%, they likely advance to a fall runoff. Monty Kurtz was third with 16%.

Crook County voters also joined other counties east of the Cascades in approving, 53-47%, an advisory measure that they support the Greater Idaho movement’s efforts to move the Idaho state border to include the county. Such a border shift that would require the approval of both states’ legislatures and Congress.

In Jefferson County, a seven-way race for the commissioner seat vacated by Wayne Fording showed Brandie McNamee with 26% and Seth Taylor with 25%, the likely two advancing to the fall election. Rick Molitor was fairly close behind at 22% and the other four each had 5-9%.

In statewide races, Tobias Read, who is stepping down as state treasurer to run for secretary of state, easily topped four other Democratic candidates with over 70% in early voting. He will face Republican Dennis Linthicum, who did much the same in a three-way GOP race.

In the race for state Treasurer, Elizabeth Steiner was easily defeating Jeff Gudman 77-23-% to be the Democratic nominee and face unopposed Republican Brian Boquist this fall.

There also were two clear winners in the party races for the attorney general seat, as Dan Rayfield was defeating Shaina Pomerantz 76-23% on the Democrat side and Will Lathrop had 64% of the vote to 35% for Michael Cross on the Republican ticket.

In the Republican primary for state Senate District 28, Diane Linthicum was easily defeating Dave Hensley, 59-41% and will win the seat, as no Democrat filed. Mike McLane was easily winning the Senate District 30 race with 68% of the votes to 24% for Douglas Muck and 8% for Robert Neuman; no Democrat filed in that race, either.

In House District 59, incumbent Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville easily defeated two GOP challengers with 89% of the vote and will face uncontested Democrat Brian Samp.

Deschutes County saw quite the voter surge the last two days of the election and as of Wednesday had tallied over 61,000 ballots, or nearly 38% of those sent out.

County Clerk Steve Dennison said that includes more than 28,000 ballots received Monday and Tuesday alone, or more than 17% of the total voter roll of 161,143.


Earlier info:

With all the key races and measures on Tuesday's primary election ballot around the High Desert, turnout in terms of ballot returns had been relatively low, likely due in large part to the already-decided major-party contests for president by this point in the campaign year, a repeat of the 2020 contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

As of Tuesday morning, the statewide ballot-return count topped 658,000, or just under 22% of the ballots sent out, ranging from fewer than 19% in Washington County to nearly 47% in Douglas County.

Deschutes County topped 26% of ballots returned by Monday and was over 30% by Tuesday afternoon, with over 50,000 ballots cast, county Clerk Steve Dennison said.

Dennison's office received about 1,300 ballots in the mail Tuesday, much fewer than the 4,000 ballots that arrived by mail on Monday, after the weekend. However, he said Election Day drop box activity was picking up and they "expect robust returns until the boxes close."

With the late-ballot return surge, Dennison said he was hopeful of reaching “the upper 30s percentage-wise, but you know I’m an optimist when it comes to these things.”

Crook County Clerk Cheryl Seely said a late surge in ballot returns put them at nearly 32% by Tuesday morning.

“I would like to see Crook County reach 40% turnout for this election, but it will probably be more like 38%,” she said. That would be lower than the 40% seen in the 2022 primary and the 45% in the last presidential primary in 2020.

All ballots must be postmarked or returned to an election office or official drop box by 8 p.m. Tuesday to be counted, Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade reminded.

Ballots can be returned through the mail, at a county clerk’s office, or at any of the secure, official drop boxes available throughout the state. Your ballot will be routed to the county in which you are registered to vote.

In Oregon, any ballot mailed on or before Election Day is counted, even if they are received up to seven days later. These ballots are not late — they were cast on time and will be counted alongside every other vote cast before 8 p.m. on Election Day. As a result, unofficial results of close elections may not be immediately available on Election Day, because it will take a few days for all the votes to be counted.

Voters are increasingly waiting until the very end of the voting window to cast their ballots, Griffin-Valade said. More than 321,700 ballots were returned on Election Day in the 2022 primary. Historical voter turnout data and other statistics are available on their website

The most high-profile local race in terms of TV ads (many negative, by the campaigns and other groups) has been the Democrats’ two candidates in the sprawling Fifth District of the U.S. House, as Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Janelle Bynum face off to advance to the fall race against first-term Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who is one of many uncontested candidates on area ballots.

In the Second District of the House, Rep. Cliff Bentz faces a Republican challenger, Jason Beebe, while Democrats Steve Liable and Dan Ruby face off for the right to take on the GOP victor in the fall.

Three statewide offices also have contested contests, as the race for secretary of state has drawn five Democrats and three Republicans, while for state treasurer, Democrats have two candidates, Jeff Gudman and Elizabeth Steiner, the victor of whom will face unopposed Republican Brian Boquist. There are four people running for attorney general, two Democrats and two Republicans.

In races for seats in the Oregon Legislature, Senate District 28 has a contested Republican race and no Democratic candidate, a similar situation in the three-way District 30 GOP contest.

House District 59 finds incumbent Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson facing Republican challengers Joseph Goodwin and Austyn Goody, the winner of whom faces uncontested Democrat Brian Samp.

Likely the most attention in Deschutes County has been on the newly non-partisan, four-way county commissioner race, as incumbent Phil Chang has drawn three challengers – Brian Huntamer, Rob Imhoff and Judy Trego. Chang wins re-election if he tops 50%, or the two top vote-getters advance to the fall.

A number of money (and other) measures face voters in the county, as Bend-La Pine Schools says nearly 200 positions hang in the balance for its first attempt at a five-year operations levy. The La Pine Rural Fire District has operations and capital levy renewals on the ballot, while Redmond voters decide on three city charter changes involving the mayor and city council.

In Crook County, county Commissioner Seth Crawford faces challengers Ken Fahlgren and Monty Kurtz, while there are two measures on the ballot – a Crook County School District bond measure and an advisory vote on whether commissioners should discuss moving the state border and joining Idaho.

In Jefferson County, there’s a wide-open seven-candidate race for county Commissioner Position 3, as Wayne Fording steps down. One wins only if they get over 50%, or the top two advance to the fall ballot.

Three measures are also on the Jefferson County ballot, a Fire & EMS levy and two that would dissolve the current Madras Aquatic Center & Recreation District and form a new district, putting the pool on a far more stable financial footing, according to officials.

Article Topic Follows: Election

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Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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