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Challenger unseats Republican incumbent Bill Kennemer in a district that's looking much more Democratic.

Republican incumbent Bill Kennemer was hopeful that the early returns in the battle for Senate District 20 indicating nearly a dead heat between him and Democrat Mark Meek would swing in his direction as more mail-in votes were counted in the Nov. 8 election.

Kennemer's wish would not come true after five straight days of ballot counting in the dramatically redrawn Oregon Senate district in Clackamas County. Covering the majority of Gladstone, Oregon City, Happy Valley, Mulino and other cities, SD20 has been considered a battleground district within the Oregon Senate.

Party registration had been previously split about evenly in SD20, but now Democrats hold about a 10-point advantage.

Early returns had Meek with a 50.04% to 49.46% lead in this year's battle, with Meek's lead increasing to 50.32% to Kennemer's 49.55% as additional ballots were processed by Saturday evening. Kennemer is now losing by nearly 500 votes, and there might not be 500 votes in SD20 left to count.

FILE PHOTO - Mark Meek

Meek, the challenger, said he was "very proud of the campaign we've run. I've got a great organization and a fantastic team. I knocked on over 7,000 doors talking to voters this year and I'm fairly encouraged by the early results. I'm thankful for our Senate District 20 voters being engaged, energized and informed."

Meek noted that the vast number of doors was similar to what he'd done in 2016 and 2018, though admitted that it was probably more this year. He felt that those he interacted with were "encouraged that I was interested enough to talk to them. It's old school and I think that's relevant."

He noted that he talked to a large variety of residents -- from low-income housing to people in million-dollar homes -- "and I think people appreciated that. The feedback and perspective were very informative." Both candidates threw big amounts of money into the Senate District 20 race. Kennemer eclipsed the $1.1 million threshold, while Meek was around the $900,000 mark by the time the polls closed.

Kennemer previously served nearly two decades in the state Legislature through a quartet of different assignments that date back to the 1980s. He was also a three term Clackamas County Commissioner from 1997 to 2008.

Meek was elected the Oregon House six years ago, and that district makes up a part of the new House District 20 map.

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