2 US House seats in Oregon still unresolved in tight races

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Voters in Clackamas County, Ore., cast ballots just a few hours before the 8 p.m. deadline at the elections offices in Oregon City, Oregon on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. A large part of the county is in Oregon's newly redrawn 5th Congressional District, where Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer and Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner are in a neck-and-neck race for an open seat that's been targeted by the GOP. Voters there said gas prices and inflation were their top concerns. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The races for two US House seats in Oregon remained unresolved Friday heading into the weekend, with tens of thousands of ballots left to be counted in the vote-by-mail state.

In Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer had a thin lead over Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner for the seat. In the 6th Congressional District, Democrat Andrew Salinas was slightly ahead of Republican Mike Erickson, a businessman who is running for the third time.

A new law in Oregon allows votes to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, meaning that some ballots have just arrived at election offices and many county offices were closed Friday for Veteran’s Day.

Clackamas County, a vast county south of Portland that stretches from the suburbs to the rural flanks of Mount Hood, is key in both contests. Elections officials there said late Thursday that as many as 65,000 late-arriving ballots were left to be counted and staff would work through the weekend.

Salinas, a state representative, and Chavez DeRemer, former mayor the Portland suburb Happy Valley, are both seeking to be Oregon’s first Latina congresswoman.

A population boom made Oregon one of just six states to gain a House seat following the 2020 census. The state’s population jumped by more than 10% in the past decade to more than 4.2 million people, giving it a new congressional district — the 6th District — for the first time in 40 years.

The 5th District seat was left open when McLeod-Skinner, a progressive Democrat, beat seven-term incumbent and moderate Democrat Kurt Schrader in the primary. The defeat made Schrader the first incumbent Democratic congressman to lose his seat this year.

Republicans targeted the seat, which was largely redrawn following the 2020 census to include parts of central Oregon, in a hard-fought campaign. Democrats controlled four of the state’s previous five U.S. House seats, including in the 5th District.