Shemia Fagan bests Sen. Rod Monroe in Democratic primary
A new face will represent East Portland and the Happy Valley area at the State Senate in Salem.
With 62 percent of the vote, Happy Valley resident Shemia Fagan has bested Sen. Rod Monroe in the Democratic primary for Senate District 24, according to unofficial results.
"I'm thankful that they put their trust in me," Fagan said. "This is a district that is in need of a fighter, and I'm so honored that they chose me."
No candidates filed to compete in the Republican primary. But there were 246 write-in votes for the Republican nomination. Assuming one of those write-ins qualifies as a candidate and accepts the nomination, Fagan could still face an opponent in the general election.
The result is a painful upset of the conventional wisdom for Monroe, whom critics had branded as the "landlord legislator" because the veteran lawmaker owns a 51-unit apartment complex in East Portland.
In a twist not normally seen in Oregon's Democratic primaries, Monroe drew two challengers to his left. Many of his detractors said Monroe was responsible for derailing in 2017 a state bill that would have allowed cities to enact rent control — an accusation that Monroe consistently denied.
But in a phone interview, Monroe chalked up his loss simply: "Negative works."
"I have one of the nicest apartment complexes in all of Rockwood, and she said that it was cockroaches and mold and all of that stuff — and people believed it," Monroe commented from his home.
"I've been serving the people of this area for almost 40 years. I guess I'll do something else now," he continued.
Monroe netted roughly 22 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns, while third-place finisher Kayse Jama received nearly 16 percent.
Reached on Tuesday night, May 15, Jama credited Fagan with running a "strong" campaign.
"I'm really looking forward to working with Shemia Fagan and supporting her," he noted, "but also making sure she hears from the community."
Jama highlighted that he ran a multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-cultural campaign, saying that his team translated campaign materials into eight languages and did not accept corporate donations.
"We should not be ignoring 25 percent of our population," he said.