Published December 23, 2015
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon voters stood by their lawmakers in Tuesday's primary election, lifting state senators and representatives past challengers throughout the state.
The goodwill extended to a pair of Eastern Oregon Republicans who drew the wrath of the state's Republican party for voting in favor of increasing business and some personal income taxes in 2009.
Bob Jensen of Pendleton had 53 percent of the vote with 89 percent of the expected vote counted, and Greg Smith of Heppner had 63 percent of the vote with 81 percent of the expected vote counted. Both had been challenged by anti-tax advocates.
Around the state, other legislative incumbents survived challenges.
Incumbent Tina Kotek, D-Portland, easily moved into the general election, where she'll face Republican Kitty Harmon. Will Rasmussen won a three-way battle in House District 37 and will face Republican Chael Sonnen in November.
Chuck Riley, who served three terms in the House, won the Democratic nomination for Senate District 15 and will face incumbent Larry George in the general election.
Democrats currently hold 3-2 advantages in both the state House and Senate. There were only a handful of Democratic primary contests for House seats, and only a few for both parties in the Senate.
A swing big enough to put the GOP back in control of the House isn't likely.
But even a few seats would give Republicans more clout and deny Democrats the 60 percent supermajority necessary to generate tax increases, according to Republican strategists.
In all, 11 of Oregon's 60 districts featured contests for Republican House nominations.