Whatchamacolumn: Mostly boring primary election has a local spark of life

Although most federal and statewide races were contested in this week’s Oregon Primary Election, serving in the Oregon justice system or state Legislature appears to have lost its appeal to political candidates.

From that perspective, it’s a boring election week in Oregon.

Of course, in Yamhill County, we may have an extended nail-biter to determine if David “Bubba” King will unseat incumbent county Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer without a November runoff. King’s current vote-count lead is perilously close to falling below the 50 percent (plus one) level needed for outright election.

I’m just guessing — without having Thursday-updated ballot counts prior to publication — that we are headed into six more months of controversial campaigning for that four-year seat on the commission. If so, we all might learn more about my favorite nut, the filbert, its role in Yamhill County politics, and the $10,000 donation to Commissioner Berschauer’s campaign one day before the election.

But I digress … back to the bore:


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Partisan and nonpartisan races alike are lacking Oregon candidates this year. Consider these examples:

Twenty-five of 30 Oregon state Senate seats — and 99 of 120 state House of Representatives races — were uncontested in this week’s Democrat and Republican races. Same thing for 23 of 29 nonpartisan district attorney elections, including Yamhill County, and 53 of 59 Circuit Court judgeships. All incumbents were unopposed in seeking re-election to the state Supreme Court, state Court of Appeals and Oregon Tax Court.

Even in contested races, a high percentage of winning candidates ran away with large vote margins over lesser-known or under-financed challengers. Still, there was some drama behind at least one blow-out election result:

Last year, state Rep. Charlie Conrad from rural Lane County became the only Republican who supported House Bill 2002. One news report quoted him as saying he “gained new perspectives on gender-affirming care by speaking with health care providers and transgender youth.”

Ballots counted through Wednesday showed incumbent Conrad at 18 percent compared to challenger Darin Harbick’s 82 percent. We were reminded that moderate Republicans – despite some evidence to the contrary described in today’s newspaper editorial – often are precluded from office in Oregon because they can’t pass the prevailing ideology test in their party’s Primary Election.

So, can we at least set politics aside for summer? Nope … the first presidential debate is scheduled for June 27.

CLARIFICATION: Last week’s column about the Blanchet Farm gathering on June 6 should have noted that the event is by invitation, with RSVP requested.


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