Jo Rae Perkins won the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Jeff Merkley, according to results from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.
But Roseburg’s Paul Romero Jr., who’s running in second place, said he suspects voting irregularities and plans to seek an investigation.
Romero said he’s been seeing votes that don’t make sense to him, with weaker Republican candidates winning their primary races Tuesday. He said that includes the win by Perkins, who he said is known as “Crazy Jo Rae” among local Republicans.
Romero said he’s received dozens of complaints from Republicans about problems such as receiving the wrong ballot or being re-registered as Democrats.
“Something’s really wrong and I wish I could put my finger on exactly what it is, but I think you have a whole lot of disgruntled Oregonian voters. And I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m more than happy to go delve into this and figure out what’s going on, at least get the right people investigating,” he said.
Four Republicans — Romero, Perkins, Robert Schwartz of Springfield, and John Verbeek of Portland — were in the running for the nomination.
Perkins had 49.98% of the vote as of 4:35 a.m. Wednesday. Romero won 30.32% of the vote, Schwartz 11.33% and Verbeek 8.16%.
Romero did better among Douglas County Republican voters than he did statewide, but Perkins still came out ahead here, with 41.96% to Romero’s 37.32%.
Perkins is a semi-retired property and casualty agent. She had originally filed to run for House District 4 but switched to a Senate run. She had previously run unsuccessfully in the 2016 and 2018 Republican primaries for District 4.
Perkins said previously she felt God had called her to run for Senate.
In live comments posted Tuesday night on Facebook, Perkins said she was “beyond blown away” by her primary win.
“Praise goes to God. That’s just the bottom line,” she said.
She said after she didn’t win the primary in her previous race, she was really bummed and thought about not running again.
“The next morning, I got up and I just said wait a minute Jo Rae. God didn’t tell you you’re done, and if God doesn’t say you’re done, you’re not done. Pick yourself up by the bootstraps and keep on truckin’ on,” she said. “And oh my gosh I am obviously so glad that I did.”
She described herself as a Christian constitutional conservative. She asserted during the campaign that Merkley cared more about letting illegal immigrants into the country than protecting Americans.
Romero is the president and CEO of Youwalk Today, Inc., a startup based on a piece of equipment that’s a cross between a wheelchair and a walker.
He is a U.S. Navy veteran who served as a non-commissioned petty officer first class cryptologic technician.
During the campaign, he positioned himself as the opposite of Merkley, who he called a socialist. Romero said he would be “America First, Oregon First.”
Romero is a precinct committee person. He made two unsuccessful primary challenges against Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Walden in House District 2 in 2016 and 2018.
Schwartz is a physical trainer who had previously run for state senate and U.S. House seats.
In his campaign, he argued that the timber industry could help solve environmental problems, with forests sequestering carbon and wood manufacturing replacing Chinese plastics.
Verbeek works in life insurance and strategies. He is originally from the Netherlands and had previously made unsuccessful runs for state House and Senate.
Verbeek campaigned on limited government and constitutional rights.
Merkley ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.