PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A second city council race is likely in the Rose City with it being improbable for any candidate to break the 50% threshold needed to win reelection.
The seat is currently held by Jo Ann Hardesty, who had 43% of the vote. Behind her is Rene Gonzales, with 23.12% and Vadim Mozyrsky, who has 22.26%.
Little by little, Gonzalez’s small lead has grown, to around 1,400 votes Thursday night. If the lead holds, he will run against Hardesty in a runoff election taking place during the General Election in November.
“When things are tough in a city, the incumbents will bear the brunt of that,” said Jack Miller, a senior political science instructor at Portland State University.
Compare Hardesty to Dan Ryan in District 2. Hardesty has been one of the most vocal critics of the Portland Police Bureau of any commissioner. Her challengers painted themselves as more moderate, with a pro-police platform.
Ryan faces a challenge from his left, with a more progressive A.J McCreary leading the group of challengers. Ryan won outright with nearly 56% of the vote.
“She is the kind of politician who inspires a lot of activist energy behind her. In the same exact same way, she can bring controversy and opposition,” Miller said.
Miller doesn’t believe that just because Hardesty did not earn 50% of the vote, she won’t win in November.
Voters will have a clear choice between candidates he says, not just voting “for Hardesty” or “against Hardesty.”
“She won’t necessarily change her campaign, but the campaign changes when you move from one of these jungle primaries…[to] the voters having one of two choices,” Miller said.
While the landscape of the city and political climate favors a challenger, incumbents do have some benefits of their own. Name recognition is key in politics, so is fundraising.
With several years to establish those networks while in office, Hardesty has had more time to establish a campaign foundation than a challenger has.
There will almost certainly be more voters in November as well, on a more normal election day during a mid-term General Election.
“With a lot more voters, there’s a lot more people to reach. That actually helps an incumbent because the challengers are going to have more of a difficulty raising money, they don’t have the same financial networks, the same fundraising networks,” Miller said.
KOIN 6 News will provide an update as soon as the runoff race is made official.