Incumbent Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian
appears on the verge of eking out a narrow victory over his opponent, state Sen. Bruce Starr
Avakian leads Starr 53 percent to 47 percent.
Although both men are longtime officeholders, the nonpartisan nature of the race and the somewhat obscure role of the labor commissioner limited interest in the battle.
Starr, who has primarily focused on transportation since entering the Legislature in 1999, appeared to have a decent chance of defeating Avakian, who was coming off a lopsided defeat in the 2011 primary election to replace former U.S. Rep. David Wu.
But Avakian got late help from a deep-pocketed political action committee called “Too Extreme for Oregon,” which raised and spent more than $350,000 in the campaign’s final weeks to help Avakian and Secretary of State Kate Brown.
Starr, who is halfway through a four-year Senate term, seemed to lose energy after the race unexpectedly got shifted from the May ballot to the November ballot, where a much higher turnout favored the Democrat Avakian, even in a nonpartisan race.