The Metro Area’s Closest Oregon Legislative Race Hangs in the Balance in Clackamas County

Neelam Gupta holds a lead over Daniel Nguyen in Multnomah County, but Nguyen’s doing better in Clackamas. Meanwhile, new partial results point toward a McLeod-Skinner victory in the U.S. 5th District.

The glacial pace of ballot counting in Clackamas County is not only delaying the result in the closely watched 5th Congressional District primary but also in a tight battle for the Democratic nomination in Oregon House District 38.

That House seat is currently represented by state Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), who is surrendering it to run for Congress. She won the Democratic nomination in Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District on May 17.

In the Democratic primary, HD 38 is fairly evenly split between Multnomah (12,700 voters) and Clackamas (11,700 voters) counties. In Multnomah County, Neelam Gupta, a Lake Oswego School Board member, leads her opponent, Lake Oswego City Councilor Daniel Nguyen, 52.3% to 47.5%, a difference of 328 votes out of 6,875 counted.

The problem for both candidates: Due to faulty bar codes on Clackamas County ballots, only about 743 ballots have been counted there as of this morning.

But the votes that have been counted are breaking hard Nguyen’s way. He’s outpacing Gupta there by 18 percentage points, 59% to 41%, and has picked up 138 votes, narrowing Gupta’s lead to 190 votes. Should the remaining votes in Clackamas follow that trend, Nguyen would take the lead. But there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Meanwhile, in the 5th Congressional District race, in which challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner leads incumbent U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), new vote tallies Clackamas County released this morning offer more information about the probable outcome.

Clackamas has now counted 4,069 votes in the 5th Congressional District primary. In that small sample size, Schrader, who is from Clackamas County and represented it in the Legislature before winning election to Congress, leads 55% to 44%.

That margin will probably change, but it’s going to be very difficult for him to overcome the 60% to 39% lead McLeod-Skinner currently holds.

Excluding Clackamas County, her lead is about 10,000 votes. There are 76,000 registered Democrats in the 5th District. If 45% of them voted (the statewide average, so far) and Schrader gets 55% of those votes, he will show a net gain of about 3,500 votes in the county, not nearly enough to overcome his deficit elsewhere. Of course, since there are small pockets of votes still uncounted in Linn and Marion counties, things could change, but Clackamas County contains nearly half of all the Democratic voters in the 5th District, so those other counties are unlikely to make substantial changes to the outcome.