Election Filing Deadline is Near

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Monday, February 24, 2020

Few people have run for county offices, though there are many candidates for state and federal positions in the primary election

The filing deadline for the 2020 primary election is just two weeks away and while state and federal offices feature numerous candidates, few have filed for open county offices.

So far, only incumbents have filed for the offices of Crook County Judge, commissioner, surveyor and sheriff.

If no other candidates file, three of the four races will be decided in the primary. Seth Crawford would be reelected judge, Jerry Brummer would win another term as commissioner, and Greg Kelso would retain the office of surveyor.

John Gautney is the lone sheriff candidate, but unlike the other offices, if nobody else files, he will not be elected until the general election in November.

If other candidates file, it affects the election of different offices in different ways. According to Crook County Clerk Cheryl Seely, if one or two candidates file for county judge, commissioner or surveyor, the candidate receiving the most votes will be elected. But if three or more candidates file for those offices, the primary election will determine which two candidates will appear on the general election ballot. However, if one of the candidates wins in the primary with more than 50% of the votes cast, that candidate will be elected in the primary.

The sheriff race bears some similarities. Seely explained that if only one or two candidates file, the position will not appear on the primary ballot, but those candidates will automatically be moved to the general election in November. If three or more candidates file for the office, there will be a primary election to determine which two candidates will be on the general election ballot. However, if one of the candidates wins at the primary with more than 50% of the votes cast, that candidate’s name is the only name that will be on the ballot at the general election.

Although the county ballot is seemingly poised for few candidates, state and federal offices will be a different story. In addition to the presidential candidates, local voters will determine the Republican and Democratic nominees for one of Oregon’s U.S. Senate seats and for Oregon’s Second Congressional District.

In the Senate race, Michael David has filed for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Jeff Merkley has not yet filed, although the Democrat is expected to run for reelection. Three Republicans have filed for the Senate seat. They include Jo Rae Perkins, Paul Romero Jr. and Robert Schwartz.

The race for the 2nd Congressional District is much more crowded, as candidates hope to replace retiring Rep. Greg Walden. Eight Republicans have filed for the position, and they include Cliff Bentz and Knute Buehler, as well as Jason Atkinson, David Campbell, Jimmy Crumpacker, Kenneth Medenbach, Mark Roberts and Jeff Smith.

Five Democrats have also filed for the office. The candidate list includes Nick Heuertz, John Holm, Jack Howard, Alex Spenser and Isabella Tibbetts.

Several state offices are up for election in May. The Secretary of State race is currently comprised of three Democrats – Mark Hass, Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Cameron Smith. Two candidates have filed for state treasurer. Jeff Gudman is seeking the Republican party nomination, and Tobias Read is running for the Democratic nomination.

In the attorney general race, only Democratic incumbent Ellen Rosenblum has filed.

Both of Crook County’s legislative representatives will be decided in 2020. The race for District 28 Senator includes Republican incumbent Dennis Linthicum and Democrat Hugh Palcic. Meanwhile, recent Republican appointee and Crook County resident Vikki Breese-Iverson is the lone candidate for House District 55 Representative.

The primary election will also determine one Crook and Jefferson County Circuit Court position. Powell Butte resident Mike McLane, who was recently appointed judge in Oregon’s 22nd judicial district, is the lone candidate for the position.

The deadline to file for the 2020 election is March 10 at 5 p.m. Those wanting to run for an elected office can contact the county clerk’s office. Filing forms and manuals can be found on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

The primary election will take place on May 19. Seely reminds people that Oregon has a closed primary, meaning that ballots will only include candidates within a voter’s registered political party and candidates for non-affiliated offices.

“Our county offices are all non-affiliated,” Seely said.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary election or change political parties prior to receiving a ballot is April 28.

Seely is surprised by how few people have filed for the county offices this election cycle.

“It has been pretty quiet,” she said.

However, she expects voter turnout to improve over the prior presidential election primary. In May 2016, 58.4% of 13,435 Crook County voters turned in a ballot. Despite a substantial increase in registered voters, 18,313 as of Tuesday, Seely expects a higher percentage of voters returning ballots this May.

She points out that this election seems to have a lot of media attention and public interest, which could result in more people casting votes. Plus, turning in ballots has gotten easier thanks to one small change.

“This is the first election where the postage will be paid on their return ballot envelope,” Seely said. “I think that in itself will cause our percentages to be a little higher.”

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