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Two billionaires give to Oregon top-two primary effort

Bloomberg, hedge-fund manager give almost $3 million to Measure 90 campaign.

Two out-of-state billionaires have contributed almost $3 million to the effort for a top-two primary in Oregon.

John Arnold, a hedge-fund manager in natural-gas trading, contributed $1.5 million to Open Primaries, one of the campaign committees in support of Measure 90.

Michael Bloomberg, the business magnate and former New York mayor, contributed $1.25 million to the main support committee.

That committee has reported raising $2.8 million and spending $2.15 million, with $655,392 cash on hand.

Opponents have reported raising $483,000 for their main campaign committee and spending $426,494, with $56,510 cash on hand.

Measure 90 would allow the top two candidates in a primary, regardless of party affiliation, to advance to the general election. Washington and California have similar systems. Oregon voters rejected a similar measure in 2008.

Since Oregon began choosing major-party nominees through primary elections more than a century ago, participation has been limited to voters registered with those parties. Lawmakers gave Democrats and Republicans the option to open them to voters not affiliated with any party, but Democrats and Republicans have done so only a few times since 1989.

Supporters spent about $500,000 to qualify Measure 90 for the Nov. 4 ballot.

In addition to $84,690 from Every Oregon Voter Counts, the original petition committee, most contributions in favor of Measure 90 have come from businesses or business associations.

A sampling: Associated Oregon Industries Prosperity PAC, Automobile Dealers Association of Portland, and Nike, $50,000 each; Common Sense Coalition for Change (Olathe, Kan.), Oregon Auto Dealer Services, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, The Standard, Ron Tonkin Management, Tim Boyle, Columbia Sportswear chief executive, and David Crane, Stanford University professor, $25,000 each; Oregon Business Association, $22,589 noncash contributions.

Labor unions, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the Pacific Green and Progressive parties oppose Measure 90.


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