Oregon Democrats have an almost unalloyed night to celebrate. They didn’t win everything; after an emotional sendoff to Aghanistan on Saturday, for example, they watched promising newcomer (to legislative politics) lose to veteran Republican Jackie Winters.
But they didn’t lose much else.
That Governor Ted Kulongoski won re-election was no great surprise. But that he appears to be holding steady at over the 50% mark – leading Republican Ron Saxton by about eight points – must come as an especially sweet win. He can’t be accused, any longer, of being a default governor – the winner only because the Republicans nominated a weak candidate – Saxton was sold as the strongest the Republicans had, and the strongest the party had fielded in many years. And he can’t be said to be governor only because of a split in the conservative vote; a majority win is a clear endorsement.
It also says something, as do a bunch of races this evening, about the impact of money in politics – that, in short, it doesn’t have to be decisive. Saxton and his backers outspent Kulongoski and his backers by nearly two to one. And see what it got them.
Democrats just held even in the state Senate, but they appear to have won the House – looks that way from the results we have at this point. (As matters sit, we’re counting 31 Democrats winning House seats – but a couple are very close, and not all the ballots are in.) The sweetener here: The apparent defeat of House Spaker Karen Minnis, who outspent her opponent about two to one, with a record-breaking million-dollar budget.
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