CANYON CITY - Weary with a Democratic governor perceived to be out of touch with rural issues, local voters cast ballots overwhelmingly for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Mannix.
Then, they watched the state race for governor stagger into a neck-and-neck contest between Mannix and Democrat Ted Kulongoski.
Multnomah and Lane counties ultimately decided the race in favor of Kulongoski. The writing was on the wall by mid-day Nov. 6, when the Oregonian declared, "Kulongoski projected to win governor's race." In the end, Kulongoski won by about 24,000 votes.
The Oregonian forecast the result the day after the election.
"While holding a statewide lead of about 2,600 votes as of 1:30 p.m., the newspaper believes Kulongoski's lead will increase as counting continues on some 70,000 remaining ballots in Multnomah County, a traditional Democratic county. Kulongoski's lead over the Republican candidate, Kevin Mannix, is nearly 2 to 1 in the urban county," the Oregonian wrote. "Also factoring into the newspaper's projection was a 3,000-4,000 plurality for Kulongoski in Lane County that has not yet been reflected in statewide totals."
Despite the outcome, it wasn't always certain that the urban areas would swing the election.
By 11 p.m. Nov. 5, with 606 of 1,002 state precincts reporting, the race still was too close to call. Mannix had received 399,453 votes (47.97 percent), Kulongoski 394,664 votes (47.39 percent) and Tom Cox, the Libertarian candidate, 38,679 votes (4.64 percent).
By 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, Kulongoski and Mannix remained in a dead-heat with each candidate carrying 48 percent of the votes. The tally then was: 493,385 votes for Kulongoski and 490,745 votes for Mannix with 76 percent of the votes counted. News agencies attributed Kulongoski's gains to late returns from Lane and Multnomah counties.
In the dead-heat governor's race, counties across the state swung wildly from one candidate to the other. In staunchly Democratic Multnomah County, with 175 of 186 precincts reporting, Kulongoski led 90,975-44,587 over Mannix. In Marion County, however, where Mannix lives, the Republican enjoyed a 37,383-30,666 vote lead with 44 of 74 precincts reporting.
In Grant County, where Kulongoski's friend, outgoing Gov. John Kitzhaber, was widely disliked, voters preferred Mannix by nearly four to one. Mannix, who visited the county in late July, won 2,613 votes, while Kulongoski received 703. Cox received 115 votes.