Oregon state elections, 2008

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Oregon's elections are conducted by mail, and are preceded by a mailing of a Voters' Pamphlet like the one pictured here.

On November 4, 2008, the U.S. state of Oregon held statewide general elections for three statewide offices (secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general), both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, and twelve state ballot measures. The primary elections were held on May 20, 2008. Both elections also included national races for President of the US, US Senator, and US House Representatives. Numerous local jurisdictions — cities, counties, and regional government entities — held elections for various local offices and ballot measures on these days as well.

Candidates for statewide offices[edit]

John Kroger (left) and Ben Westlund arriving at the 2009 State of the State address
Allen Alley, candidate for State Treasurer

Democrat Kate Brown won the election for Secretary of State. She defeated Rick Metsger, Vicki Walker, and Paul Damian Wells in the Democratic primary. She then won the general election, in which she faced Republican Rick Dancer (who was unopposed in the Republican primary)[1] and Pacific Green Party nominee Seth Alan Woolley.[2]

Democrat Ben Westlund won the race for Treasurer. He and Republican Allen Alley were each unopposed in their respective primaries. Constitution Party nominee Michael Marsh was also on the November ballot.[3]

Democrat John Kroger was elected Attorney General. He won the Democratic nomination over Greg Macpherson.[4] Kroger also won the Republican nomination since no Republican filed and the most write-in votes—2,885—were for him.[5] Three minor party candidates were also on the November ballot: J Ashlee Albies (Oregon Working Families Party), Walter F. Brown (Pacific Green Party), and James E. Leuenberger (Constitution Party of Oregon).[6]

Brad Avakian, who was appointed Oregon Commissioner of Labor and Industries in spring 2008, defeated two opponents in his campaign to retain that seat: Pavel Goberman and Mark Welyczko. The position is non-partisan.[7]

Oregon Supreme Court Associate Justice Martha Walters won reelection, with no opponent.[8] Oregon Court of Appeals judge Timothy Sercombe did as well.[9]

State legislature[edit]

The Democratic Party of Oregon gained five seats in the Oregon House of Representatives, while the Oregon Republican Party gained one seat in the state Senate, the one Democrat Ben Westlund vacated to run for state treasurer. Going into the 2009 legislative session, Democrats will have a 36-member majority in the 60-seat House, and an 18-member majority in the 30-seat Senate. These three-fifths majorities give Democrats exactly the number of votes in each house needed to pass any bills that raise revenue, due to the supermajority requirement in Article IV §25 of Oregon's constitution.

Of the 60 races for the House, 39 had both Democratic and Republican candidates; 24 of those were in districts previously represented by Republicans, 15 in districts previously represented by Democrats. Sixteen Democrats had no Republican opponent, and five Republicans had no Democratic opponent.

Sixteen of the Senate's 30 seats were up for election. Fifteen are typically slated for general election, but Brad Avakian's seat was opened up when he was appointed state labor commissioner. Nine of the districts were previously held by Democrats, of which four races were contested; seven were currently held by Republicans, of which four were contested.

Ballot measures[edit]

Oregonian voters decided on 15 statewide ballot measures in 2008, Measures 51 through 65.


In the May primary election, all three statewide ballot measures, 51, 52, and 53, passed. Measures 51 and 52 amended the Oregon Constitution with regard to crime victims' rights; Measure 53 also amended the state Constitution to modify the limits on property forfeited in criminal cases. All three were legislative referrals.

Measures 51 and 52 passed by wide margins, but Measure 53 was extremely close and required a hand recount; it eventually passed with a final official count of 50.03% to 49.97%.[10]

Measure 51[edit]

Amends constitution: Enables crime victims to enforce existing constitutional rights in prosecutions, delinquency proceedings; authorizes implementing legislation.

Oregon 2008 Measures 51 and 52.svg
Measure 51
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 744,195 74.92
No 249,143 25.08
Total votes 993,338 100.00

Measure 52[edit]

Amends constitution: Enables crime victims to enforce existing constitutional rights in prosecutions, delinquency proceedings; authorizes implementing legislation.

Oregon 2008 Measures 51 and 52.svg
Measure 52
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 738,092 74.87
No 247,738 25.13
Total votes 985,830 100.00

Measure 53[edit]

Amends constitution: Modifies provisions governing civil forfeitures related to crimes; permits use of proceeds by law enforcement.

Oregon 2008 Measure 53 (1).svg
Measure 53
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 490,158 50.03
No 489,477 49.97
Total votes 979,635 100.00


In November 2008, voters considered eight initiatives, 58 through 65, and four legislative referrals, 54 through 57.[11] Measures 54, 55, 56, and 62 were amendments to the Oregon Constitution. The four referrals all passed, and the initiatives all failed.

Detailed information on these measures[12] and official results[13] are available from the Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division.

Measure 54[edit]

Amends constitution: Standardized voting eligibility for school board elections with other state and local elections. Repealed the unenforceable state constitutional provision that only people 21 years of age or older can vote in school board elections.

Oregon 2008 Measure 51.svg
Measure 54
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 1,194,173 72.59
No 450,979 27.41
Total votes 1,645,152 100.00

Measure 55[edit]

Amends constitution: Changes operative date of redistricting plans; allows affected legislators to finish term in original district.

Oregon 2008 Measure 51.svg
Measure 55
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 1,251,478 77.42
No 364,993 22.58
Total votes 1,616,471 100.00

Measure 56[edit]

Amends constitution: Provides that May and November property tax elections are decided by majority of voters voting. Repealed the "double majority" rule for these elections enacted by Measure 47 in 1996.

Oregon 2008 Measure 56.svg
Measure 56
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 959,118 56.60
No 735,500 43.40
Total votes 1,694,618 100.00

Measure 57[edit]

Increases sentences for drug trafficking, theft against elderly and specified repeat property and identity theft crimes; requires addiction treatment for certain offenders.

Oregon 2008 Measure 51.svg
Measure 57
Choice Votes  %
Referendum passed Yes 1,058,955 61.39
No 665,942 38.61
Total votes 1,724,897 100.00

Measure 58[edit]

Prohibits teaching public school student in language other than English for more than two years.

Oregon 2008 Measure 58.svg
Measure 58
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 977,696 56.36
Yes 756,903 43.64
Total votes 1,734,599 100.00

Measure 59[edit]

Creates an unlimited deduction for federal income taxes on individual taxpayers' Oregon income-tax returns.

Oregon 2008 Measure 65.svg
Measure 59
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 1,084,422 63.78
Yes 615,894 36.22
Total votes 1,700,316 100.00

Measure 60[edit]

Teacher "classroom performance," not seniority, determines pay raises; "most qualified" teachers retained, regardless of seniority.

Oregon 2008 Measure 60.svg
Measure 60
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 1,070,682 61.39
Yes 673,296 38.61
Total votes 1,743,978 100.00

Measure 61[edit]

Creates mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain theft, identity theft, forgery, drug, and burglary crimes.

Oregon 2008 Measure 61.svg
Measure 61
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 887,165 51.10
Yes 848,901 48.90
Total votes 1,736,066 100.00

Measure 62[edit]

Amends constitution: Allocates 15% of lottery proceeds to public safety fund for crime prevention, investigation, prosecution.

Oregon 2008 Measure 62.svg
Measure 62
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 1,035,756 60.56
Yes 674,428 39.44
Total votes 1,710,184 100.00

Measure 63[edit]

Exempts specified property owners from building permit requirements for improvements valued at/under 35,000 dollars.

Oregon 2008 Measure 63.svg
Measure 63
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 928,721 54.21
Yes 784,376 45.79
Total votes 1,713,097 100.00

Measure 64[edit]

Penalizes person, entity for using funds collected with "public resource" (defined) for "political purpose" (defined).

Oregon 2008 Measure 64.svg
Measure 64
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 854,327 50.56
Yes 835,563 49.44
Total votes 1,689,890 100.00

Measure 65[edit]

Changes general election nomination processes for major/minor party, independent candidates for most partisan offices. Would have created a blanket primary.

Oregon 2008 Measure 65.svg
Measure 65
Choice Votes  %
Referendum failed No 1,070,580 65.91
Yes 553,640 34.09
Total votes 1,624,220 100.00

Citizens' Initiative Review of 58[edit]

Healthy Democracy organized a trial run of the Citizens' Initiative Review process they advocated in September on Ballot measure 58. They brought together a representative cross-section of voters as a citizens' jury to question and hear from advocates, and experts on language education. The panelists then deliberated and reflected together to come up with statements in support (9 panelists) and opposed to (14 panelists) the measure, which are available online and were read out by the panelists at a press conference. Health Democracy advocated for the state to organize such a review of each ballot measure, and include the statements in the voters' pamphlet. '"It was exhausting, but it was exciting to have a group of people with hugely diverse backgrounds and experience listening carefully to both sides and all respectful to one another," said Lorene Wallick'[14][15]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]