Marion County Republicans are gearing up for an almost epochal election this November. Several pivotal races that could determine balances of power in both Washington, D.C. and Salem will be decided by county voters this fall. Voters will select who will represent them for the next two to four years in two county commissioner posts, all nine state House districts that include Marion County, four state Senate districts, governor, Congress (CD 5), and a U.S. Senate seat.
Position 1 — Kevin Cameron When Commissioner Patti Milne announced early this year that she would not seek a fifth term on the Board, then-Rep. Kevin Cameron announced that he would seek election to her seat rather than continue in the Legislature. On 20 May he was appointed by the Board to fill the seat vacated upon her resignation on 2 April and began his duties on 2 June. He faces Democrat Diana Dickey.
Position 2 — Janet Carlson Having weathered a stiff primary challenge, Commissioner Carlson seeks re-election to her fourth term on the Board. She was a particularly strong advocate for adopting the coordinated care model of healthcare delivery and the county's contract with WVCHealth, one of the principal reasons for the primary challenge. Her Democrat opponent is yet to be determined since Colin Brown, the candidate selected in the primary, withdrew.
District 17 — Rep. Sherrie Sprenger Rep. Sprenger has been ably representing Linn County and the Santiam Canyon region of Marion County since her appointment replacing Sen. Girod in 2008. She is passionate about her constituents even while taking on the unenviable task of constantly reminding her urban colleagues about how their (often foolish) legislative proposals will affect her rural district. She, once again, faces Richard Harisay.
District 18 — Rep. Vic Gilliam The adage, "Time heals all wounds", will receive a stiff test this fall when Rep. Gilliam faces voters after a particularly bruising primary challenge. He has easily won re-election each term following his appointment at the beginning of the 2007 session, but some recent votes have upset many conservatives. He faces Democrat Scott A. Mills.
District 19 — Jodi Hack Rep. Cameron's decision to seek election to the Marion County Board of Commissioners created an open seat. The challenge to keep this seat in the Republican column falls to political newcomer Jodi Hack. She describes her motivation to seek elective office as a response to "the devastation of the broken economy." Her Democrat opponent is Dr. Bill Dalton.
District 20 — Kathy Goss Hoping to persuade the residents of this almost-evenly split district to travel a more conservative road than they did with retiring Rep. Vicki Berger, Kathy Goss has one of the most difficult challenges of any of our Republican candidates. While no stranger to politics, this is her first try for elective office. She is up against a former mayor of Monmouth, Paul Evans.
District 21 — Beverly Wright
District 22 — Matt Geiger Taking on an incumbent is always tough. When one seems as entrenched as the Democrat Rep. Betty Komp, the task could appear insurmountable. Matt Geiger, however, is not one to back down from such a challenge. A small business owner in Woodburn, Mr. Geiger has received many awards and is a respected leader in the community. A victory in this district will be a Republican pick-up that could bring the House within reach.
District 23 — Mike Nearman Perhaps the biggest surprise to arise out of the primary was the victory of Polk County Republicans chair Michael Nearman over well-liked incumbent Rep. Jim Thompson. Mr. Nearman has strong policy convictions and showed repeatedly that he is unwilling to equivocate or let others play political games without him sounding the alarm. In a relatively safe Republican district, Democrat Wanda Davis is his main opponent.
District 25 — Bill Post Who better to inherit the seat immensely popular Rep. Kim Thatcher is leaving behind to step up to the Senate (see below) than popular talk-show host Bill Post? Apparently nobody according to 78% of Marion County Republicans. The district is so safely Republican that Democrats did not even sacrifice a candidate despite it being an open seat. He does face an opponent; he simply has an (I) behind his name rather than a (D).
District 39 — Rep. Bill Kennemer If there were ever a sure thing in politics, this is one: Rep. Bill Kennemer will return to Salem next year for a fourth term. The campaign is simple since he has no Democrat opponent (he was unopposed in the Primary, too). The clinical psychologist has spent much of his adult life — since 1986 — in public service. Between two stints in Salem, he spent ten years on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners.
District 10 — Sen. Jackie Winters Her first employment in the Capitol was as ombudsman for the late Gov. Vic Atiyeh. Sen. Winters will return in 2015 to begin her fourth term representing District 10. She, too, faces no Democrat opponent. Despite the rumor that last session would be her last and then the "confirmed rumor" that Fred Thompson would oppose her in the primary, neither panned out.
District 11 — Patti Milne By all accounts this will be the race to watch in the mid-Willamette Valley — perhaps the entire state. After all, the incumbent just happens to be the Senate President. A victory here would lay to rest most, if not all, the common critiques and rumors leveled against the Republican party. As a former State Representative and popular and highly-respected County Commissioner, Ms. Milne has a much-better-than-even shot at winning this race.
District 13 — Rep. Kim Thatcher When Sen. Larry George announced his intention not to seek a third term, it was only natural and logical that the senior representative in the Senate district step up to take his place. She will ably continue his efforts to create and nurture an environment friendly to business to encourage the private sector to create jobs. Her Democrat opponent is Newberg City Councilor Ryan Howard.
District 20 — Sen. Alan Olsen Success in getting bills to aid veterans and promote common-sense environmental stewardship through the Senate in his first term has only whetted Sen. Olsen's appetite for a return to the Capitol. Like the other candidates on this page, ownership of a small business informs his desire to turn Oregon's economy around. Democrat Jamie Damon seeks to unseat him.
Rep. Dennis Richardson The task of preventing a disasterous fourth term for the present governor falls to this lawyer from southern Oregon. His grasp of the budget and the implications of state spending are unparalleled. Almost single-handedly, as one of three co-chairs of Ways & Means, he enabled the State to avoid a series of special sessions in 2011 and 2012. If Oregon is to have any hope of real recovery, Rep. Richardson must be our next governor.
U.S. House – CD 5
Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith When she gave a rip-roaring speech last summer at the annual Gathering of the Eagles, you just knew that she was getting ready for a significant campaign. With four years in the legislature (2001-2004), two years as a commissioner, and even experience gained lobbying Congress as a private citizen, Ms. Smith is ready to take on Washington, D.C.
Dr. Monica Wehby George Will recently commented that with the growing impact of healthcare issues there are only three medical doctors in the U.S. Senate. One is retiring "but another ... may be coming, straight from the operating room to her first elected office." Dr. Wehby's campaign has garnered national attention, putting intense pressure on both her and the freshman incumbent. Here's to her hands remaining steady.