Looking Ahead to 2016 Sees Interesting Election Fights

BallotWe’re nine months away from the 2016 primary election, and already candidates are jockeying for position. Announcements have been made, and money is already being solicited in Clackamas County and across the state.

Here in Clackamas County the activity will be especially hot and heavy. Let’s look at the early information:


Terms are up for three of the five county commissioners, including the outspoken (“Stop Portland Creep, including Light Rail”) Chair John Ludlow. Two of his commission colleagues, both re-elected last year and thus able to run without losing their seats if they lose, have already announced they are running against him:

Jim Bernard is in his third term on the board. The former Milwaukie mayor was re-elected last year. A middle of the road Democrat (who now lives in New Era, east of Canby), Bernard feels he has a good shot at Ludlow.

Paul Savas, the Oak Grove Republican also re-elected in 2014, calls himself a moderate and is often the swing vote on the five-member commission. He also wants to send Ludlow packing home to Wilsonville.

That particular race will be especially interesting because, if no candidate achieves a majority in the primary, the top two will run off in November. (That’s true in many other races, too, of course.)

Two other seats are also up:

Tootie Smith, the outlandish former legislator from Molalla who likes to auction guns at her fund-raisers, is being challenged as she seeks a second term after failing to unseat Congressman Kurt Schrader, D-Canby.

Seeking to oust her is Clackamas River Water Board member and Democrat Ken Humberston. He was elected following a massive recall on that board and has proven he can work productively and effectively. Ken is a Democrat from the outskirts of Oregon City.  Also running for this seat is Sandy’s respected Mayor Bill King, an independent, who in 2014 endorsed Paul Savas.

Democrat Martha Schrader, who has relocated from Canby to Lake Oswego, is the other Democrat on the board. A former legislator and long-time commissioner, she will be challenged by Steve Bates, the conservative Republican from Damascus. Bates ran against Bernard last year and nearly beat him.


Brent Barton, D-Oregon City, a House member in his second term, is stepping down. He is about to become a new father, has a growing law practice, and can’t find time for a third full-time job as a legislator. Family first, says Barton, and none can argue with that. He raised $800,000 in the most expensive legislative race last year and has been a tireless campaigner.

Several people are looking at that seat. Voter registration isn’t strong for either side and the House District 40 race could be a toss-up.

Stephanie Nystrom, D-Corbett, is said to be looking seriously at trying again in House District 52 which runs from eastern Multnomah to Hood River through the Sandy-Mt. Hood corridor communities of Clackamas County. Mark Johnson, the incumbent and a proud Republican who received money from the Koch brothers, will probably run again.

On the west side of the Willamette, Julie Parrish, the Republican incumbent in House District 37, has apparently ruled out a run for Secretary of State and will seek re-election. One of the people looking seriously at that race is a Democratic lawyer, Paul Southwick. He lives in Tualatin.

In the interests of brevity, we can fairly state these Democrats are likely to run for re-election.: Kathleen Taylor, of SE Portland’s HD 41, which reaches into Milwaukie and Oak Grove; Shemia Fagan, HD 51 from Damascus to parts of Multnomah County and including the Clackamas Town Center area; Jeff Reardon of HD 50 from East Portland to outlying north-central precincts of Clackamas County; and Ann Lininger, HD 38 from Lake Oswego to SW Portland. Currently, Clackamas County is served by five Republicans in the house as well as the five Democrats mentioned.