#NativeVote16 – Sanchez falls short in Oregon House race

** There is an update to this story. See new post. ***

Election night gathering for supporters of Tawna Sanchez. (Campaign photo via Facebook).


Tanwa Sanchez is a couple hundred votes short in her bid to win office as an Oregon state legislator. According to the Secretary of State’s unofficial returns, Sanchez trails Roberta Phillip-Robbins in Northeast Portland’s House District 43.

Sanchez, Shoshone-Bannock, received 6,460 votes to Phillip-Robbins’ 6,643 votes. Two other challengers picked up 358 votes. (Previous: A record year for native candidates.)

House District 43: Source: Oregon Secretary of State; 100 percent of ballots counted.

Tawna Sanchez 6,460 47.99%
Roberta Phillip-Robbins 6,643 49.35%
Robert E Andrews Jr 309 2.30%
Write-in Votes 49 0.36%


This race had a few twists in its final weeks. The apparent winner, Phillips-Robbins, was working as a county employee who was funded by a federal contract when she first ran for the post (and, more important, raised money for her campaign).

According to a piece in Willamette Week: “Phillip-Robbins’ resignation from her county job might have satisfied the federal Office of Special Counsel, which prosecutes Hatch Act violations and in similar cases has pushed candidates to choose between their jobs and their political aspirations. But Sean Cruz, a Portland writer and former legislative staffer, is not placated. On May 9, Cruz, who has endorsed Tawna Sanchez, Phillip-Robbins’ opponent, filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s elections division.”

Phillips-Robbins said once she was informed about the violation, she resigned her job, ending the Hatch Act violation.

Oregon election officials have yet to weigh in on the complaint by Cruz.

I will post updates as they become available. — Mark Trahant

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Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant is an independent journalist. He currently serves as the Charles R. Johnson Professor at the University of North Dakota.

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