Former state Rep. Shemia Fagan (D-Clackamas) will unseat incumbent state Sen. Rod Monroe (D-East Portland) in their Democratic primary battle for his Oregon Senate seat.
In early returns, Fagan has 61.9 percent of the vote, while Monroe has 24.7 percent. Kayse Jama, the executive director of Unite Oregon, is a distant third with 13.1 percent.
Fagan is poised to take Monroe's seat in the Oregon Senate, in a race that served as a bellwether in the war between tenants and landlords.
Speaking by telephone this evening, Fagan said she was "elated," and that Senate President Peter Courtney had called to congratulate her.
Monroe, a three-term incumbent who first won election to the Oregon House in 1976 came under fire because he's a landlord opposed tenant protections, including overturning the state ban on rent control and outlawing "no-cause" evictions. Housing activists targeted Monroe for a primary challenge, even as one of his tenants sued him. (Remarkably, he countersued.)
Incumbents rarely draw serious competition in legislative primaries but Jama and Fagan both jumped in last September.
Although results are not yet final, Fagan's early lead is unexpectedly huge.
Fagan said she felt confident based on the work her campaign had done,
knocking on 32,000 doors. But the landslide caught her by surprise: "I didn't imagine the margin would be this big."
"This is a message election," she said. "And the message is that Oregonians are ready to deal with the housing crisis."
Fagan said that a campaign volunteer collected two ballots this morning from a couple living in their car. "These are for Shemia," they told the volunteer.
"It's a real responsibility and if the results hold, I'll be getting to work this weekend," Fagan says.