Oregonians react to ballot measure results, Brown's win

All but one of the ballot initiatives were defeated. 


Oregonians celebrated the outcome of the mid-term ballot measures on Twitter today. The results demonstrate the peculiar workings of the state's ballot measure system, where a small group of people can put issues on the ballot that are later rejected by a majority of voters. 

It's remarkably easy to get an issue on the ballot in Oregon, compared to other states. Oregon requires signatures equal to 8% of the vote cast in the last gubanatorial election. There is no requirement that activists gather signatures across a wide distribution of counties, as they must do in other states.

That means fringe groups with little public support can easily bring an issue to a vote, and nest their ideas within obscure language. This election offered a prime example. If you examine the funders of key ballot measures closely you'll find most were backed by a special interest group, and received little outside support.

Big out-of-state grocery chains poured millions into measure 103 to gain corporate tax loopholes and forestall a soda tax. A hate group advanced Measure 105 to repeal Oregon's sanctuary law, and a few individuals pushed 106, which would have banned public funding for abortions. Measure 104, backed by industry lobbyists, would have protected tax breaks and loopholes. All of these initiatives were defeated by a resounding majority of ordinary voters. 

The sole survivor among the ballot initiatives was measure 102, which permits using bonds to build affordable housing. 

Here are the results of this election's ballot measures, and how Oregonians reacted on Twitter. 

Sixty-four percent of voters voted no on Measure 106, which would have banned public funding for abortions. 

Sixty-three percent of voters voted no on Measure 105, which would have repealed Oregon's sanctuary law. 

Fifty-seven percent of voters rejected Measure 103, which would have banned new taxes on grocers and preempted a soda tax. 

Sixty-five percent of voters rejected Measure 104, which would have required a three-fifths supermajority vote in each house of the legislature for any changes to tax breaks. 

Fifty-three percent of voters supported using bonds to build affordable housing. The Portland Business Alliance hailed the result: “By passing Measure 102, Oregonians clearly agree that we can do more when we work together. We look forward to supporting local leaders in financing and building more affordable housing for our region," said Andrew Hoan, the new president of the business group.

Thank you for passing Measure 102, Oregon! This will allow us to maximize our Portland Housing Bond dollars and to create more affordable housing, partnering with both private and non-profit sectors. I appreciate voters stepping up to help our community. https://t.co/EJoBKxFx8N

— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) November 7, 2018

Interest groups weighed in on Kate Brown's gubernatorial win over Republican challenger Knute Buehler. “We are excited to collaborate with Governor Brown and strengthen our partnerships to support better access to stable family-wage jobs, quality educational opportunities and affordable housing across the region,” the Portland Business Alliance's president said in a release.

In the state's legislature, Democrats won supermajorities in both the lower and upper chambers. The Democratic party now holds 38 seats in the House and 18 in the Senate.  

Sandra McDonough, president and CEO of Oregon Business & Industry, another business association, said in a release: “OBI looks forward to working with all of the individuals elected to office yesterday on issues important to the long-term well-being of our state.” 

Brown’s win was hailed by environmental groups. Renew Oregon, a nonprofit that advocates for a market-based carbon reduction system, said Brown’s win is a good step toward carbon legislation becoming a reality.

“Governor Brown has promised to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill to cap pollution and invest in solutions next year. We look forward to continuing to work with her and legislative leadership on this bold climate protection strategy,” said Tera Hurst, executive director of Renew Oregon, in a release. 

Kate Brown winKate Brown celebrates victory at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Portland last night (Photo: Jason Kaplan)

Labor groups also supported Brown’s victory. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) issued a statement proclaiming the election result boosts the strength of Oregon’s labor movement.

“Governor Brown’s commitment to healthcare, stable housing, and strong unions galvanized SEIU members to give their time and resources at a scale that was unprecedented,” said the labor group.

Kim Moore contributed to reporting for this article.


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Caleb Diehl

Caleb Diehl is a reporter at Oregon Business

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