SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregonians are returning mail-in ballots for the state’s primary, and one of the highest-profile races Tuesday is the GOP contest to be the nominee in the state’s vast 2nd Congressional District covering eastern Oregon.
Rep. Greg Walden, the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, is not running for a 12th term. Republicans running for the seat being vacated by Walden include Knute Buehler, a former member of the Legislature who unsuccessfully ran for Oregon governor in 2018; former state Sen. Cliff Bentz; and former state legislator Jason Atkinson.
Four Democrats are seeking the seat in the conservative district.
There is no drama in the primary race for the White House. President Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee and Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Of more interest are the party races for Oregon secretary of state — the second-highest statewide office after the governor.
Democrats running for secretary of state include state Sens. Shemia Fagan and Mark Hass, and Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who ran unsuccessfully against Walden in 2018. State Sen. Kim Thatcher is the only GOP candidate.
The election is taking place during the coronavirus outbreak, and officials are taking precautions with ballot handling. Election workers have been receiving instructions on handling ballots along with protective equipment from the Oregon National Guard and others.
One local race is garnering national attention. Voters in metropolitan Portland, Oregon, will be asked to approve taxes on personal income and business profits that would raise $2.5 billion over a decade to fight homelessness.
The ballot measure was planned before the pandemic reduced the U.S. economy to tatters. How voters in the liberal city react amid the pandemic will be instructive for other West Coast cities struggling to address burgeoning homeless populations as other sources of revenue dry up.