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Published on May 22, 2024
Nathan Vasquez Takes Early Lead in Multnomah County DA Race Against Incumbent Mike SchmidtSource: Multnomah County District Attorney's Office

In what's shaping up to be a much-watched battle for the Multnomah County district attorney position, Nathan Vasquez, the senior deputy district attorney under the current DA Mike Schmidt, is currently leading the race with a significant margin. With around 115,000 votes counted as of 10 p.m. yesterday, Vasquez has secured 56% of the vote compared to Schmidt's 44%, as reported by KGW.

The stakes are high for this particular DA race that has garnered unforeseen political attention. At Schmidt's campaign headquarters, despite the disheartening early results that made supporters take down the displayed numbers, the incumbent district attorney did not throw in the towel. "This has been a hard-fought campaign, and we're still counting," Mike Schmidt told his supporters, according to an interview by KATU. "But regardless of the outcome tonight, I'm filled with so much deep gratitude."

As political analysts point out, the ongoing DA election is a referendum on public safety policies that have been in effect over the past four years. Vasquez managed to bag endorsements from six major law enforcement unions in Multnomah County and the union that represents county prosecutors. Highlighting the gravity of the financial battle, Vasquez has raised upwards of $1.1 million in donations, with notable contributions from prominent figures such as Nike's Phil Knight and Columbia Sportswear's Tim Boyle, as reported by OPB.

In contrast, Schmidt, backed by several public employee unions and major state Democrats, initially trailed behind in campaign donations, but he caught up to Vasquez's fundraising prowess. Schmidt’s campaign chest was significantly bolstered by contributions from the Working Families Party of Oregon and financial backing aligned with George Soros, which traditionally supports progressive candidates. "The candidates used these funds to run equally divisive campaigns," as observed by OPB. Negative campaign mailers and digital ads have set a bitter tone as the election continues to unfold.