In final hours, GOP and Dems vie for votes in ‘purple’ Marion Co.

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In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election in Marion County. Republicans feel certain that will happen again. Democrats believe otherwise.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s the final countdown. With Election Day Tuesday, volunteers in Marion County were rushing toward the finish line, hoping to encourage more voters to turn in their ballots while they still can. 

At the Marion County Democrats office, the door was open and people were walking in, purchasing signs, bumper stickers, and pins. 

“We’ve really been focusing on making sure we don’t experience another presidential election like 2016,” said Marion County Democrats Chair Evan Sorce. 

In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election in Marion County. Trump had 63,377 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 57,788.

“I would say that our county is purple. It’s not blue. It’s not red. It’s purple and if we turn out to vote, we can move that to a more Democratic area,” Sorce said. 

However, Jeff Heyen, chairman of Marion County Republican Party, doesn’t foresee Marion County voters turning their backs on Trump this year. In fact, he predicts Trump will win by an even larger margin.  

“There’s a lot of unhappy voters in Oregon with everything that’s been going on, with COVID and with the fires and with all the things that surround that, a lot of very dissatisfied, disgruntled, displaced voters. I think you might see an interesting result here,” Heyen said. 

While the Democrats’ office was lively the day before the election, the Marion County Republicans’ office was closed with just one political sign in front of its windows. 

Despite the way the office looked, Heyen said his volunteers are working hard from home and they haven’t slowed their efforts. 

“You ask, ‘What have you been doing in the last day?’ and my answer is the same thing we’ve been doing for the last 30. We’re chasing ballots and lots of people are doing what they’re doing to get out the vote,” he said. 

With COVID-19 limiting in-person campaigning, both parties said they’ve been relying heavily on making phone calls and sending postcards. 

Last week, Marion County Election Clerk Bill Burgess told KOIN 6 News the county was seeing “unprecedented” early voting. Marion County Democrats’ neighborhood leader coordinator Lee Mercer said they’re having a hard time finding people to call because so many people have already dropped off their ballots. 

“As of Saturday, three-quarters of the voters on our list had already voted,” Mercer said. He expects this number has increased significantly in the last couple days.

Heyen told KOIN 6 News Republicans tend to vote on Election Day rather than early because many are against Oregon’s vote-by-mail system. 

“We kind of protest by, ‘I’m going to hold this ballot until the last second and then drop it off,’” Heyen said. “We want to hand-deliver that thing to a county office, a secured ballot box or whatever.” 

Both the Marion County Republicans and Marion County Democrats said their eyes are on the outcome of the Oregon Senate District 10 race between Republican incumbent Sen. Denyc Boles and Democrat Deb Patterson. Both candidates have spent more than $1 million on their campaigns. 

Sorce also said his party has focused a lot of effort on Democrat Ashley Carson Cottingham’s race for Marion County Commissioner. He said a Democrat hasn’t won this seat in more than 40 years. Carson Cottingham is facing Republican Danielle Bethell. 

Heyen said his party is also heavily invested in the race between Republican Rep. Raquel Moore-Green and Democrat Jackie Leung for Oregon House District 19.  

Although they certainly have their differences, both parties feel this is an extremely critical election and remind all voters in the state to submit their ballots to drop boxes by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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