DA Mike Schmidt Concedes While Key County Commissioner Races Inch Toward Runoffs

A cranky electorate expresses its frustration through its ballots.

Nathan Vasquez at the Hoxton Hotel on election night. (Jake Nelson)

In a conclusion to the most expensive, most aggro local race on the May 21 ballot, incumbent Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt conceded this afternoon to challenger Nathan Vasquez.

“I have called Nathan Vasquez to congratulate him on his victory,” Schmidt said at 4 pm Wednesday afternoon. “While we do not always see eye to eye, I am committed to a smooth transition.”

The first vote count released Tuesday night showed Vasquez, a senior deputy DA in Schmidt’s office, with a commanding lead of 16 percentage points. Since then, the vote count has split pretty evenly, narrowing Vasquez’s lead to 7.5% as of the ballot count released Wednesday evening. But while Vasquez’s lead in percentage terms has narrowed, he’s held on to an absolute lead of about 13,000 votes, which has not narrowed. That’s why Schmidt conceded: The leftward skew in votes counted later isn’t strong enough for him to catch his opponent.

The numbers released Wednesday evening also showed that Sam Adams clings to a narrow lead over Jessie Burke for Multnomah County commissioner in District 2 (North and Northeast Portland). Adams leads Burke by about 600 votes, or 1.27%, in the race to challenge the leading vote-getter, Shannon Singleton (46%), in a November runoff to serve out the balance of former Commissioner Susheela Jayapal’s term. (She resigned to run for Congress.)

In District 1, Meghan Moyer (46.6%) and Vadim Mozyrsky (40%) still appear headed for a November runoff. In District 4 (Gresham), Gresham City Councilor Vince Jones-Dixon is inching closer to crossing the 50%-plus-1 threshold that would allow him to avoid a runoff against his chief opponent, Brian Knotts (41.7%).

Elections officials will continue counting for the next week, as ballots postmarked May 21 or earlier dribble in, but the vast majority are in their hands at this point—174,879 ballots out of the 571,351 sent to registered Multnomah County voters, a turnout so far of 30.61%.

One way, in addition to the Schmidt vs. Vasquez race, that voters have expressed unhappiness: The $380 million Metro zoo bond measure is passing by just 7 points in Multnomah County, compared to almost 17 points in Washington County and even 13 points in Clackamas County. When tax-loving Multnomah County voters are dragging behind neighboring counties on a money measure, change may be in the air.

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