By Jim Ellis
May 18, 2016 — Primaries were held last night in three states, and there were no surprises to speak of, except perhaps how well Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to perform against presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
Voters headed to the polls in the Blue Grass State to choose nominees for state and federal offices. Only Democrats cast ballots in the presidential contest. Republicans met in caucus back in early March, so there was no accompanying GOP primary.
Sen. Rand Paul (R) seeks re-nomination for a second term, and facing only two minor opponents, he easily won. His general election opponent will be Lexington/Fayette County Mayor Jim Gray (D), who glided to a landslide nomination win over six minor Democratic candidates.
None of the five incumbents seeking re-election had any serious nomination threat. Minister Nancy Jo Kemper (D) was thought to potentially be a serious opponent for two-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington) in the general election, but she had raised less that $150,000 for the race. All incumbents brushed back minor opposition. No Kentucky seat is expected to change hands in the general election.
There was no presidential action in the Gem State, and Sen. Mike Crapo (R) and investment banker Jerry Sturgill (D) were unopposed for their respective party nominations. Sen. Crapo is a prohibitive favorite to win a fourth term in November.
In Oregon, both presidential parties have primaries. Clinton needs only to accumulate further delegates in today’s elections since she needs approximately 15 percent of the remaining delegate votes to clinch the nomination. Clinton now doesn’t even need to win any more primaries, since she needs so few committed delegates. And that’s good, because Sanders continues to put together wins.
For Republicans, Donald Trump easily carried Oregon. Oregon is a zero-threshold state, meaning there is no vote requirement to obtain delegates. The straight proportional system awards on the basis of vote percentage earned. Before last night, Trump was less than 100 delegate votes from reaching the magic 1,237 committed votes required to clinch the GOP nomination.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D) seeks a fifth full term after winning a statewide special election in 1996. He faced two minor candidates in yesterday’s voting, which is conducted completely through the mail. Four Republicans were going after their party’s nomination but their wins last night will mean little in November. Sen. Wyden is poised to coast to another re-election victory.
Four of the five US House incumbents face primary opposition, but none is serious. All five representatives are seeking re-election, and each are easily expected to return for another term.
Oregon voters also took a step toward formally electing a governor. Because Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigned less than a year after being re-elected to avoid scandal, interim Gov. Kate Brown (D), who ascended to the position because she was Secretary of State (Oregon has no office of lieutenant governor) seeks nomination in the special election. She should have little trouble in winning.
If elected in November, Brown will serve the remainder of the current term, and then be eligible to run for a full four-year term in 2018. Seven Republicans competed for the GOP nomination, which was won by former state Medical Association president Bud Pierce.