What's an Open Oregon House Seat Worth? Try Nearly $2 Million

Candidates in House District 51 (Happy Valley) shatter previous spending record.

The final tallies won't be available for another week or so, but the candidates competing for an open Oregon House of Representatives seat in House District 51 (Happy Valley and Clackamas) appear to have set a new spending record for a legislative race.

Democrat Janelle Bynum and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer have raised a combined $1.93 million.

Bynum, who owns and operates two McDonalds' restaurants has raised $1.07 million and Chavez-DeRemer, the mayor of Happy Valley, has raised $861,000. All campaigns are in a seven-day reporting period, so additional contributions and expenditures will continue to roll in through next week.

In their pursuit of the seat being vacated by two-term incumbent Shemia Fagan (D-Clackamas), the two candidates have eclipsed the combined $1.6 million former House Speaker Karen Minnis (R-Wood Village) and Democratic challenger Rob Brading spent in 2006.

Minnis kept her seat but Republicans lost their majority in the House that year and have not reclaimed it since.

The race between Bynum and Chavez-DeRemer, along with an open seat in House District 22 (Woodburn) are probably the two closest House races this year.

The prize for each winner: a salary of $23,568 for what is increasingly a full-time job—and the opportunity to run again in two years.

Ballots for tonight's election must be turned in to official collection spots by 8 pm tonight.

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