May 17 primaries bring change, make history for Oregon


Kayla Wolf, News Editor

The Oregon primary elections on May 17 initiated several milestones and many controversies. Ballots were cast by fewer than 10 percent of eligible Oregon voters, and according to The Oregonian, this election is projected to be the lowest turnout in the state’s history.

Gubernatorial candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties were at the forefront of election night. For the Democratic candidate, Oregon’s former House Speaker Tina Kotek, who received 58.02 percent of the vote, defeated current treasurer Tobias Read, who received 32.53 percent of the vote. The Republican race was close, but Christine Drazan won the nomination with 23.45 percent of the vote, while opponent Bob Tiernan won about 18.35 percent of the vote. Although she will not be on the ballot until the general November election, Independent Betsy Johnson will also be a candidate. When the three candidates vie for the governorship later this year, it will be the first time in Oregon history that all gubernatorial candidates are female.

The second race that received a lot of coverage in the media was the race for Oregon’s new Senate District, District 6. Because the 2020 census determined Oregon’s population had grown significantly since the previous one, a new district was added, which consists of areas in Salem, Woodburn, Sherwood, Wilsonville, Tigard, Tualatin and a small portion of Beaverton, according to an Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) article. Since this was a new district, there was no incumbent. There were several Democratic and Republican candidates for the position, but one of the most controversial candidates during the race was Carrick Flynn. Flynn received over $10 million from billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, who made his fortune mostly through owning a cryptocurrency company, as reported by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) News. However, Bankman-Fried is not an Oregon resident, which sparked debate around the ethics of out-of-state funding. Ultimately, Democratic candidate Andrea Salinas won the nomination with 36.9 percent of the vote, while Flynn received 18.7 percent of the vote. The Republican nomination went to Mike Erickson who had 35 percent of the vote, while opponent Ron Noble received 18.6 percent.

One of the most debated ballot measures during the election was Measure 34-314, a measure that would have overturned a ban on flavored tobacco products.. However, voters chose to keep the ban with 77 percent voting “No” and 23 percent voting “Yes.” According to Washington County, the ban will “Prohibit the sale of any flavored tobacco or flavored synthetic nicotine product,” as well as “Prohibit any coupon or price promotion for any tobacco product, synthetic nicotine product or inhalant delivery system.”

Voters will have the opportunity to select Oregon’s next leaders, including a new governor, in the general election on Nov. 8.