May 20 Election: 'It ain't over until it's over'

EUGENE, Ore. - An $18 million school bond was passing by 4 votes then failing by just 4 votes before updated counts put the "Yes" vote ahead by 19.

Early returns also showed 2 of 3 incumbents poised to hold on to their seats on the Lane County Commission.

The lone exception: challenger Dawn Lesley held a narrow lead over incumbent Jay Bozievich in the first 3 rounds of returns, up 87 votes as of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday.

"It ain't over until it's over," Bozievich told supporters. "The race is too close to call at this point."

He appears to have been right: an updated count as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday put the incumbent ahead of his challenger by 45 votes.

The first returns had a school bond passing in Pleasant Hill by just 8 votes. That lead narrowed to 4 votes as the night wore on. Then the lead switched, with "No" votes ahead by 4 as of 10:45 p.m.

Supporters of a school bond in Veneta were faring better, as a Fern Ridge School District bond appeared headed for victory. Voters in Scio defeated a school bond there.

Election Night was over early for statewide incumbents. Gov. John Kitzhaber cruised to the Democratic nomination for re-election.

Kitzhaber already made history as Oregon's first 3-term governor. Republicans chose state Rep. Dennis Richardson as their alternative to a fourth Kitzhaber term.

In his first bid for re-election since unseating Republican Sen. Gordon Smith in 2008, Sen. Jeff Merkley earned his party's nomination for re-election. Republicans picked Dr. Monica Wehby to challenge Merkley.

In local races, Bozievich hoped the last ballots would close the gap between him and Lesley.

Commissioner Sid Leiken won re-election to the Springfield seat on the Lane County Commission.

Another incumbent, East Lane commissioner Faye Stewart, faced four challengers. Of them, Kevin Matthews of Pleasant Hill put up the strongest numbers. Late Tuesday night, however, Stewart held enough of a lead to win re-election and avoid a November runoff against Matthews.

"Tonight is a night to celebrate the success of our grassroots campaign coming to this point," Matthews said. "Win, lose or draw, we worked hard."

A tax levy supporting the Linn County Sheriff's Office was passing, but an effort to build a new fire station in Harrisburg was headed for defeat.