Oregon 2018 primary results, labor union edition

Left, Val Hoyle, candidate for Oregon Labor Commissioner, attends a February rally with Heather Buch, a candidate for Lane County Commissioner. Both had strong labor backing in the May 15 primary. Hoyle won outright, and Buch placed first and faces a November runoff.

Oregon labor unions backed 55 candidates in 41 contested races in the May 15 primary (in 13 of those races, more than one candidate had union backing). Here’s how they fared.

Unionists across Oregon breathed sighs of relief on Election Night, May 15, with the victory of Val Hoyle to be Oregon’s next top labor law enforcer. Hoyle won with 51 percent victory over Lou Ogden’s 36 percent, despite his receipt of $200,000 in the last three weeks of the campaign from four conservative business owners.

The win means that Hoyle — a former Democratic House Majority Leader with a strong pro-labor voting record — will be Oregon’s next labor commissioner in January at the conclusion of Brad Avakian’s term. Labor commissioner is a non-partisan statewide elected position, in charge of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which enforces wage and hour and civil rights laws, sets the prevailing wage on public construction projects, and oversees state-registered apprenticeship training programs. It’s a job that gets little notice from the public, but it’s of great importance to organized labor and working people.

Ogden, in his campaign, said BOLI has been out of balance favoring labor over industry.

Hoyle got tremendous support from Oregon unions in the campaign, including roughly $400,000 in donations, volunteer efforts, printing from UFCW Local 555 and campaign office space from Carpenters Local 271.



Labor-endorsed incumbent governor Kate Brown easily won the Democratic primary with 81 percent of the vote against two challengers who raised no money and didn’t campaign. Brown will face Republican state rep Knute Buehler in November; he came in first place in the Republican primary with 47 percent in a field of 10.


There were no surprises in Democratic Congressional primaries, with all four Democratic incumbents winning the party’s nomination.

In Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, Jamie McLeod-Skinner won a seven-way race with 43 percent of the vote; she’ll challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Greg Walden in November. McLeod-Skinner, a former AFSCME member, was backed by Oregon’s teachers union. Another former union member in the race, Eric Burnette, was backed by UFCW Local 555 and the Teamsters, but came in sixth place with 4.6 percent of the vote.


Oregon Senate
  • Senate District 3 (Medford): Union-backed Athena Goldberg got 36 percent, losing to Jeff Golden, a longtime public TV and radio broadcaster. Her candidacy was considered a priority for the Oregon AFL-CIO.
  • Senate District 11 (Salem): Labor-backed incumbent Peter Courtney won 65 percent of the vote, surviving a primary challenge from Joyce Judy.
  • Senate District 13 (Keizer): UFCW-backed law professor Paul Diller outpolled AFT-backed AFT local union president Sarah Grider by 58 to 41 percent, winning the chance to challenge Republican incumbent Kim Thatcher.
  • Senate District 24 (East Portland): Former state rep Shemia Fagan, with support from public sector unions, trounced longtime incumbent Rod Monroe, who was backed by IBEW and the state building trades council. Fagan got 62 percent to Monroe’s 22 percent.
Oregon House
  • House District 9 (Coos Bay): Incumbent Caddy McKeown, backed by the Building Trades and OEA, easily overcame a challenger by 81 to 19 percent.
  • House District 11 (Eugene): Former deputy district attorney Marty Wilde outpolled SEIU law clerk Kimberly Koops 53 to 46 percent. Both candidates had union backing.
  • House District 18 (Silverton): UFCW-backed photography teacher Barry Shapiro won by 69 to 30 percent and will face Republican incumbent Rick Lewis.
  • House District 32 (North Coast): State child welfare worker Tiffiny Mitchell, with support from four public sector unions, won with 41 percent in a field of three. Former state rep Tim Josi, who was backed by UFCW and the state building trades council, came in third place. Mitchell will face Republican teacher Vineeta Lower to succeed Democrat Deborah Boone, who’s retiring.
  • House District 45 (NE Portland): Incumbent Barbara Smith Warner, backed broadly by labor, easily defeated a primary challenge (90-10) in the strongly Democratic district.
  • House District 52 (Hood River): Anna Williams outpolled Aurora Del Val by 76 to 22 percent. The two candidates shared dual endorsements from three unions. Del Val withdrew from the race in April but her name was still on the ballot. Williams will face Republican Jeff Helfrich in November.



  • President: Lynn Peterson, broadly backed by labor, won 79-20 against an opponent who did not actively campaign.
  • Council, District 2 (S/SE): Joe Buck outpolled three other candidates with 38 percent, and will face Christine Lewis (23 percent) in a runoff in November. Both have union endorsements.
  • Council, District 4 (W, Hillsboro): Non-profit executive Juan Gonzalez defeated Laborers Local 483 shop steward Dana Carstensen 55 to 44 percent. Both had union endorsements.


Coos County

  • Commission, Position 2: UFCW-endorsed incumbent John Sweet took first place with 46 percent and will face Katy Eymann (28 percent) in a November runoff.
  • Commission, Position 3: UFCW-endorsed incumbent Melissa Cribbins won outright against two challengers with 55 percent.

Clackamas County

  • Commission, Position 2: Paul Savas, backed broadly by labor, easily won re-election outright with 60 percent of the vote against two challengers.
  • Clerk: Scandal-plagued incumbent Sherry Hall got 43 percent of the vote and will face union-backed Pamela White (32 percent) in a November runoff.

Clatsop County

  • Commission, Position 5: UFCW-backed incumbent Lianne Thompson won re-election with 59 percent.

Columbia County

  • Commission, Position 2: Henry Heimuller, the incumbent, first place and will face Port of St. Helens Commissioner Paulette Lichatowich in runoff November. Heimuller was endorsed by UFCW and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.

Lane County

  • Position 1 (West): Incumbent Jay Bozievich won outright with 56 percent, surviving a challenge from union-backed OEA member Nora Kent (39 percent) and AFSCME member Beverly Hills (5 percent). Bozievich did have the endorsement of IBEW Local 280.
  • Position 2 (Springfield): With broad union backing, Joe Berney and his campaign knocked on over 20,000 doors and defeated incumbent Sid Leiken 52 to 48 percent. Leiken’s hostility to a strike by members of AFSCME Local 2831 was a factor in the race.
  • Position 5 (East): Union-backed Heather Buch won 31.27 in a field of six and will face incumbent Gary Williams (31 percent) in a November runoff.

Multnomah County

  • Chair: Incumbent Deborah Kafoury, with broad union backing, won 72 percent of the vote against three challengers.
  • Commissioner District 2: Union-backed Susheela Jayapal won outright with 61 percent in a field of four.
  • Auditor: In a field of three, union-endorsed Jennifer McGuirk narrowly outpolled Scott Learn (42-41) and will face him again in a run-off.

Washington County

  • Chair: Metro Council member Kathryn Harrington had broad union backing and placed first with 38 percent. She’ll face incumbent commissioner Bob Terry (30 percent) in a November runoff. Ryan Deckert, a former Democratic state rep and business lobbyist who was endorsed by six building trades unions, came in third with 23 percent.
  • District 2: Pam Treece, a former PacifiCorp executive and head of a business advocacy group, defeated incumbent Greg Malinowski by 58 to 41 percent. Both had union backing.
  • District 4: Union-backed activist Kimberly Culbertson lost to Hillsboro mayor Jerry Willey, who was backed by real estate and business groups.
  • District attorney: Prosecutor Kevin Barton defeated UFCW-backed defense attorney Max Wall by 70 to 30 percent.


City of Portland
  • Commissioner, Position 2: Incumbent Nick Fish, who had broad union backing, won a four-way race with 62 percent of the race; Julia DeGraw, backed by a trio of smaller union endorsements, came in second with 32 percent.
  • Commissioner, Position 3: Former state rep Jo Ann Hardesty took first place with 44 percent of the vote in a field of six; she’ll face second-place finisher and current Multnomah County commissioner Loretta Smith (22 percent) in a run-off in November. Hardesty had four labor endorsements; Smith had 11, including the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. A third candidate, Andrea Valderrama, was backed by AFSCME Local 189, the largest City union; she came in fourth place.
City of Salem
  • City Council, Ward 8: Oregon Labor Candidates School graduate Micki Varney, a union steward with SEIU Local 503, came about 250 votes short of defeating incumbent city council member Jim Lewis.

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