Challenger Chloe Eudaly, a bookstore owner making her first bid for public office, leads Portland Commissioner Steve Novick in preliminary results in the Portland City Council race.

If she holds onto the lead, her victory would mark one of the most stunning upsets in Portland City Council history.

It's been 24 years since a candidate for the Portland City Council upset an incumbent. That's when newbie Charlie Hales beat Commissioner Dick Bogle for a seat at City Hall.

Eudaly's march to Portland City Hall was even more challenging because she rejected big money contributions when conventional wisdom says it takes a lot of cash to oust a sitting commissioner.

Novick raised close to $600,000 for his re-election campaign compared with just $100,000 for Eudaly.

Chloe Eudaly checks election results Nov. 8. (Christine Dong)
Chloe Eudaly checks election results Nov. 8. (Christine Dong)

Novick found himself in a November runoff because of significant voter dissatisfaction with him, largely because of his failed efforts to pass a Portland street fee.

Novick won less than 43 percent of the vote in May, meaning he failed to clear the 50 percent threshold necessary to win outright. Eudaly, by comparison, earned just 15 percent of the vote, barely making it into a second-place finish.

Novick appeared humbled by the results of the May primary. After failing to win the contest, he amped up his apologies, repeatedly acknowledging his mistakes as he tried and failed to pass a Portland street fee in his first term.

City Commissioner Steve Novick (Maya Setton)
City Commissioner Steve Novick (Maya Setton)

Huge cheers erupted at Eudaly's campaign party Tuesday when the first results rolled in, giving Eudaly 102,000 votes to Novick's 89,000.

Just before 8 pm when the first results rolled in, Eudaly said she was feeling good. "Until I checked out the national election, and then I wanted to curl up in a fetal position," she said.

Surrounded at Holocene by supporters and helium balloons that spelled C-H-L-O-E, the candidate said she felt she ran a great race. "And regardless of who wins, we're both better than Trump," she said.

Novick, meanwhile, conceded the race to reporters at Spirit of '77.

Around 8:30 p.m., Eudaly took the stage at Holocene to the sound of "Chloe, Chloe, Chloe" chants.

"I'm not starting a cult," she joked. "I'm just going to be our next city commissioner."

She would become only the eighth woman in the history of the city to do that.