MEDFORD, Ore. — With the initial results from Oregon's 2020 primary election coming in, one candidate has pulled ahead in the race for the Republican candidacy for Oregon's 2nd Congressional District, but the Democratic race remains uncertain.
With over 31 percent of the vote, Cliff Bentz took the lead over major Republican contenders Knute Buehler, Jason Atkinson, and Jimmy Crumpacker.
Shortly before 9:30 p.m., Buehler — the closest challenger to Bentz's lead — put out a statement conceding the election to Bentz and congratulating him on the victory.
"Cliff is a good man and a strong legislator. His deep roots in CD will serve us all well in Congress," Buehler said. "I strongly endorse Cliff and encourage all Republicans to rally behind him to keep CD2 Republican in 2020. Congrats to Cliff, his family and all his supporters."
For the Democrats, Alex Spenser maintains a narrow lead with 32.3 percent of the vote over Nick Heuertz, who has 30.8 percent.
Results are not yet final and may change as additional votes are tallied.
Congressman Greg Walden has held the 2nd District seat since 1999, but announced last October that he would not seek re-election, preferring to retire from politics. The massive 2nd District, which encompasses most of south, central, and eastern Oregon, has become the state's only reliably Republican federal seat in recent years.
As a result, the Republican primary field was particularly crowded for this year's election — including candidates Cliff Bentz, David Campbell, Glenn Carey, Jason Atkinson, Jeff Smith, Jimmy Crumpacker, Justin Livingston, Kenneth Medenbach, Knute Buehler, Mark Roberts, and Travis Fager.
The Democratic field is more narrow — including candidates Alex Spenser, Chris Vaughn, Jack Howard, John Holm, and Nick Heuertz.
"Being elected to represent the Republicans of CD2 in the 2020 race for congress is one of the most humbling experiences of my life," said Bentz in a statement to supporters. "It’s an incredible honor to follow in Congressman Walden’s footsteps. Just as he has done, I will do my best to represent and uphold the values of CD 2 and Rural Oregon."