Workers extract ballots from mailing envelopes on Tuesday, Nov. 3, as the Malheur County Clerk’s Office processed ballots at a pace ahead of the 2016 presidential election. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)
UPDATE: This report was updated to reflect new results released by Malheur County at 10:30 p.m.
VALE – Ontario lawyer Cliff Bentz can start looking for a home in Washington, D.C., as early election results show he is heading to Congress.
Meantime, Brian Wolfe doesn’t have to worry about turning in his keys to the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office as he appears to be winning another term as sheriff. He has held the office since 2011.
And Vale is getting a new mayor.
Malheur County voters turned out in a record number for the 2020 general election, keeping most incumbent elected officials on the job, seating a new Malheur County commissioner, and filling city council seats in Ontario, Vale and Nyssa. They also gave Vale’s publicly-owned nursing home a financial lifeline with new property tax support.
The final results from the Malheur County Clerk’s Office at midnight represented 11,768 ballots received by the county. Turnout was 70.2% – down from 75% in the last presidential election in 2016. Malheur County posted the lowest voter turnout in the state in the current election, according to the state Elections Division. Statewide, turnout was 80.2%
The returns showed that President Donald Trump again has won Malheur County, taking 69% of the votes. Four years ago, he also won 69% of Malheur County votes.
Bentz beat out a contested field of Republicans in May to face off against Democrat Alex Spenser of Klamath Falls to replace U.S. Rep. Greg Walden. Walden, representing Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, is retiring. Early returns from the entire district showed Bentz leading 60% to 37%. In his home county, the margin was 76% to 22%.
Bentz is expected to take a seat in a Washington federal government fractured between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are expected to retain control of the U.S. House. Early returns left unclear whether Democrats would achieve their political dream of getting back in charge of the U.S. Senate.
In legislative races, state Sen. Lynn Findley, a Republican and the former city manager in Vale, appeared to win an easy election over Carina Miller of Warm Springs. Findley raised $252,906 for his campaign in Oregon’s largest state Senate district while spending $211,275. Findley’s biggest expense was passing on $159,000 to the Senate Republican caucus to help elect more Republican senators. That could position Findley for enhanced leadership role in the Senate.
In the House, state Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, was winning over Democrat Beth Spell, a substitute teacher from John Day. Owens raised $101,507 to Spell’s $5,750.
Here are the initial results:
PRESIDENT – Malheur County results
Donald Trump – R 8,101
Joe Biden – D 3,202
Jo Jorgensen – Lib 215
Howie Hawkins – PacGr 56
Dario Hunter – Progr 29
MALHEUR COUNTY COMMISSIONER
Ron Jacob – R 8,255
Byron Shock – D 3,050
MALHEUR COUNTY SHERIFF – Nonpartisan
Brian Wolfe 6,496
Casey Walker 4,720
VALE MAYOR – Nonpartisan
Mike McLaughlin (I) 349
Tom Vialpando 371
VALE CITY COUNCIL – Top 2 win
Todd Fuller 404
Cathy Zacharias 245
Leighton Keller 446
ONTARIO CITY COUNCIL – Top 3 win
Kevin Petross 1,375
Eddie Melendrez 1,812
Maria Fisher 1,697
Sam Baker 1,883
John Kirby 2,024
NYSSA CITY COUNCIL – Top 4 win
Krissy Walker 577
Douglas Dewar 393
Ron Edmondson 476
Patricia Esplin 593
Roberto Escobedo 490
STATE REPRESENTATIVE – District results
Mark Owens-R (i) 22,359 – 78%
Beth Spell-D 6,391 – 22%
STATE SENATOR – District Results
Lynn Findley-R (i) 42,952 – 67%
Carina Miller-D 21,356 – 33%
US REPRESENTATIVE – District results
Cliff Bentz-R 241,322 – 60%
Alex Spenser-D 154,112 – 38%
Robert Werch-I 11,295 – 2.8%
PIONEER NURSING HOME Health District
Property Tax Levy – Operations
Find complete Malheur County results HERE.
YOU CAN HELP KEEP LOCAL NEWS FLOWING: Reader support allows the Enterprise to provide in-depth, accurate reporting that otherwise would not get done. Keeping the community well informed is essential. SUBSCRIBE – $5 a month, automatically. DONATE – to provide additional support.