Primaries are taking place for three positions on the Oregon Supreme Court on May 19, 2020. The Position 1 primary is the only contested primary, between current Justice Thomas Balmer and Van Pounds.
If a justice wins over fifty percent of the vote in the primary election, then he secures a seat on the supreme court. If neither candidate wins over fifty percent of the vote, then the two candidates will compete for a majority of the vote in the general election held on November 3, 2020
Justice Balmer has been on the state supreme court since 2001 when he was appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber (D). He was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014 to serve full terms on the court. He was unopposed in each race. Balmer served as the chief justice from 2012-2018.
Van Pounds works in the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. He ran for a seat on the Oregon Supreme Court in 2018, but was defeated by Justice Meagan Flynn. Flynn had been appointed by Governor Kate Brown (D) in 2017.
The Oregon Constitution establishes non-partisan election as the mode of selection for state court justices. In the event of vacancies, justices are appointed by the governor.
Although Covid-19 has altered the primary election dates of many states, Oregon will still hold its primary election on May 19, 2020. Oregon’s elections are conducted by mail, so there are no alterations to this year’s primary election schedule.