In the highest dollar contest for a state Senate seat, Democratic challenger Mark Meek and incumbent Republican Bill Kennemer were virtually tied in the race to represent part of Clackamas County, according to partial returns tallied as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Senate District 20 was dramatically redrawn last year to exclude rural areas of Clackamas County and instead center on Oregon City, Gladstone and north to Happy Valley.
That gave Meek, a three-term House member, a shot at ousting the longtime Clackamas County lawmaker. The two candidates raising a staggering $4.16 million between them.
Kennemer, a trained clinical psychiatrist and former member of the Clackamas Board of Commissioners, was looking to hold his seat in a district where voter registration used to be almost evenly split between the two parties, but now favors Democrats by 10 percentage points. He raised $2.04 million, the second highest amount of any Republican Senate candidate this year and a reflection of the party’s high dollar push to regain control of the body — or at least eliminate Democrat’s super majority. That three-fifths edge has enabled Democrats to pass new taxes without a single Republican vote and given them solid control of the chamber’s policy agenda.
Meek, a real estate broker and resident of Gladstone, has represented House District 40 since being elected in 2016 and is looking to make the move up to the Senate. As of Friday, he had raked in the most contributions of any Senate candidate, with $2.12 million in contributions.
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– Ted Sickinger; firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-221-8505; @tedsickinger