Rob Collins and Michael Breiling treated Election Day like any normal day.
Both Pendleton attorneys trekked to their respective law offices Tuesday and attempted to focus on work rather than whether they would win the open Circuit Court judge seat in the 6th Judicial District.
During the campaign, the candidates’ signs popped up in Umatilla and Morrow Counties. A spate of letters to the editor weighed in, some for Collins, others supporting Breiling.
On Election Day, neither candidate felt the win was in the bag. As evening fell, tension rose. Breiling gathered with supporters in a back room at Hamley Steakhouse. The hubbub of conversation bounced off the tin ceiling as they ate, drank and killed time until the results rolled in. As the eight o’clock hour neared, Breiling set down his drink and checked his phone, rechecking several times before they appeared. Finally, he scanned the Umatilla County results, with friends leaning in. His expression grew serious.
Collins had won the night in Umatilla County with 5,886 votes to Breiling’s 3,713. Morrow County voters weighed in with similar percentages (61 to 39) and actual numbers of 875 to 559 votes. The vote count was unofficial with some votes left to be counted, but it would be an uphill climb.
“It’s not looking good,” he admitted, “but life goes on. I wish Rob well.”
Collins spent the early evening in another role as Round Up Director hosting Portland Rose Festival princesses in town to spend time with the Round-Up Court. After dinner at the Let ‘er Buck Room, Collins drove home to find a houseful of ecstatic people ready to celebrate with their candidate.
“There was a lot of people cheering me, greeting me,” Collins said. “It was pretty cool. Everyone was quite jubilant.”
The attorney quieted for a moment.
“I feel excited that people have expressed that kind of confidence in me,” he said. “It’s really gratifying.”
Collins will take the bench in January. He said he will spend the next seven months easing out of the law practice he shares with his brother, Michael Collins.
“Being a judge is a full-time job,” he said. “I will withdraw from the law firm and my brother will carry on for Collins and Collins. He is considering bringing an associate into the firm.”
The campaign for Circuit Court judge was the most expensive local race, with Collins raising $16,475 and Breiling $23,549.
Contact Kathy Aney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0810.