PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A retired state appeals court judge supported by marijuana advocates defeated a former federal prosecutor Tuesday in a Democratic primary race for attorney general that focused on Oregon's medical marijuana law.
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With 58 percent of the vote counted, Ellen Rosenblum was leading Dwight Holton, a former U.S. attorney who has criticized the state's medical marijuana law, 63 percent to 37 percent.
Mitt Romney notched up another win in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Oregon has 25 presidential delegates up for grabs and most if not all are going to Romney.
In the race for mayor of Portland, former city commissioner Charlie Hales had a comfortable lead with 39 percent of the vote. State Rep. Jefferson Smith led New Seasons Market co-founder Eileen Brady 29 percent to 24 percent in the race for second place. The top two contenders will go on to a runoff in November.
Two incumbent legislators, Republican Sen. Chris Telfer and Democratic Rep. Mike Schaufler lost re-election bids.
Rosenblum's victory came with the help of marijuana activists who flexed their political muscles in a state with 55,000 registered medical marijuana users.
Rosenblum has embraced the law as it stands and says she won't make prosecuting marijuana cases a high priority. Rosenblum's campaign received more than $140,000 from pro-pot groups that want to see Holton defeated.
"There's lots of issues that played into my victory, and that may well be one of them," Rosenblum said of the surprising emergence of medical marijuana as a defining issue. "But I was running on a platform of being an attorney for the people of Oregon, and I think they got it and I think that's why I won."
The Republican Party has not fielded a candidate for attorney general, but party officials have encouraged voters to write in the name of Portland property attorney James Buchal. If Buchal receives more GOP write-in votes than any other candidate, Rosenblum will face him in November. But Republican voters could also nominate the winner of the Democratic primary, as they did four years ago with incumbent Attorney General John Kroger, a Democrat.
Rosenblum, 61, has emphasized her Oregon roots and portrayed Holton as an outsider, pointing out that he joined the Oregon State Bar just three years ago. She joined in 1975. She was a federal prosecutor in Eugene and Portland for nine years before she was appointed a trial court judge in 1989. She became an Oregon Court of Appeals judge in 2005 and stepped down from the bench last year.
Holton, 46, was a federal prosecutor for 15 years, first in Brooklyn before transferring to Portland in 2004 and, later, running the U.S. attorney's office for Oregon on an interim basis for nearly two years. He's worked on presidential campaigns — Michael Dukakis' in 1988 and Bill Clinton's in 1992 — and in the Clinton White House.
Holton's father, Linwood Holton, was a Republican governor of Virginia, and his brother-in-law, Tim Kaine, is a former Democratic governor of Virginia and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
"I will always be grateful for the overwhelming support from groups who fight every day for working families, for teachers, for equal rights — and those who stand up for justice and go to work every day to hold powerful interests accountable and keep our communities safe," Holton said in a statement.
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown defeated Democratic challenger Paul Damian Wells, and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio easily turned back a Democratic challenge by Matthew Robinson, the son of Art Robinson, the Republican whom DeFazio will face in the November election.
"Oregon voters saw through Art Robinson's stunt and soundly defeated his son's bizarre bid for the Democratic nomination," DeFazio said in a statement.
Matthew Robinson said during the campaign that he did not expect to win, and acknowledged that he shared nearly all of his father's political views.
In other congressional primaries, Democrats chose Joyce Seegers to challenge Republican Rep. Greg Walden. Republicans chose Ronald Green to challenge Rep. Earl Blumenauer; Fred Thompson to challenge Rep. Kurt Schrader; and Delinda Morgan to challenge Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.
Portland attorney Nena Cook secured a place in the November runoff to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court with 38 percent. Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Richard Baldwin held a slight lead, 32 percent to 30 percent, over Court of Appeals judge Timothy Sercombe for the second slot in the runoff.
Voters in Josephine County, the heart of Oregon timber country, were voting down a tax increase to make up for the loss of federal timber subsidies.
Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says the failure of the $12 million a year levy will force sheriff's patrols and prosecutors to be cut to the bone by the end of the month. About 100 jail inmates will have to be released to get down to the new limit of 30.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.