Democratic Rep. Zach Hudson and Republican Randy Lauer in tight race for House seat representing North Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale

First-term Democrat state Rep. Zach Hudson was locked in a close race with Republican challenger Randy Lauer for House District 49.

In partial returns tallied as of 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Hudson had 51% of the votes and Lauer 59%.

Republicans this election cycle pumped unprecedented money into Oregon House races in a bid to undermine Democrats’ supermajority, which has allowed that party to set the legislative agenda and pass tax bills without Republican support for the past four years. Largely in response to Republican spending, Democrats funneled significant amounts of money into key candidates’ races in an effort to hold their ground

Hudson, a high school and special education teacher, was outraised by Lauer, the mayor of Troutdale and owner of a CrossFit gym in Gresham. The race was one of the top five most expensive House races in the state – with Hudson raising and spending $600,000 compared to Lauer’s $700,000.

The district that spans North Gresham, Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale is heavily Democratic, with 33% of voters registering as Democrats and 20% registering Republican.

Statewide, campaign strategists predicted ahead of Tuesday’s results that Republicans would ride a wave of public discontent with the direction of the state under Democratic rule. Republicans, who currently hold 23 of the House’s 60 seats, need to gain at least two seats to end Democrats’ supermajority rule.

Whether Republicans have succeeded at that goal will become clear in coming days, as complete results are tallied in tight races.

With Republicans setting their sights high, raising and spending reached record or near record levels. As of last week, six House races – including the east Multnomah County contest between Hudson and Lauer – exceeded the $1 million mark. One Senate race – District 20 between Republican Sen. Bill Kennemer and Democratic Rep. Mark Meek – surpassed $4 million, easily shattering the old record.

In House District 39, Lauer campaigned on three broad platforms: crime, homelessness and protecting “his community’s freedom of medical choice” during the pandemic, saying COVID-19 “medical mandates” are “irrational and simply unacceptable.” As for the first two – crime and homelessness – Lauer offered no specifics on his campaign website as to a plan of attack.

“The streets of East County are no longer safe and this needs to change!” Lauer wrote.

Meanwhile, Hudson, the Democrat, campaigned on many issues and specifics – including fighting climate change by opposing the development of fossil fuel infrastructure and supporting incentives for green energy, supporting the rights of workers to unionize, rejecting cuts to the state’s public pension system, regulating prescription drug prices and supporting gun control laws such as universal background checks, waiting periods, safe storage laws, red-flag laws and a ban on assault weapons.

OREGON ELECTION 2022: Live Results Page | Election page

— Aimee Green;; @o_aimee

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