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Primary winners brace for November election

A number of party nominations in local and state races were decided last week in a primary election generally characterized by low voter turnout.

For county commissioner, Janet Carlson retained her seat in the primary, defeating challenger Kim Brady 60 to 40 percent. Carlson will face Woodburn resident Colin Brown in the November election for position 2 on the board.

“I'm grateful for the confidence and support of Republican voters in this primary election,” Carlton said in a brief statement, while Brady did not respond to a request for comment.

Vic Gilliam, the incumbent representative of House District 18 (Hubbard, Aurora, Silverton), defeated his challenger, Hubbard electrician and Marion County Republican Party chairman David Darnell, 58.6 percent to 41.1 percent, in a closely watched race characterized by an unusual number of personal attacks.

In a phone interview last week, Gilliam, while not specifically criticizing Darnell, admitted that he and his campaign staff had been “exhausted” by the bitter and negative nature of the primary race.

“I’m relieved that it’s over,” he said. “For me, it was unfortunate and unnecessary and — I’m sorry to say — very ugly. I think it really damaged our party.”

Darnell’s “I will vote like a Republican should” campaign had been heavily financed by Nevada millionaire Loren Parks (who contributed $75,000 of Darnell’s total $107,000 in donations) and had harshly critiqued the moderate Gilliam’s voting record in ads and direct mailers.

Come November, Gilliam will face Democrat Scott Mills, who was unopposed in his primary.

“I think he’s a very pleasant person,” Gilliam said. “Strangely enough, I expect a far more civil campaign in the general election. I’m looking forward to getting back on the high road. Upward and onward.”

Darnell did not respond to a request for comment.

Bill Post, a conservative talk radio show host, defeated small business owner Barbara Jensen for the House District 25 (Keizer, St. Paul) representative seat being vacated by Kim Thatcher, 77.3 to 22.2 percent.

“I believe there may be a shift in the state, as political pendulums generally swing back and forth and I believe it's swinging back toward the right now,” Post said. “November should be a very fun and it will tell us if I am right in my thinking.”

Post was also gracious toward his opponent.

“Barbara Jensen ran a very good campaign,” he said. “She worked hard too, forcing me to work very hard, and I admire that and wish her all the best.”

Jensen said she appreciated the opportunity to run and expressed her gratitude to those who supported and endorsed her candidacy.

“Very few people ever have that experience,” she said. “And while my bid for state representative did not achieve the desired outcome, I learned much along the way, and it’s opened new doors for me that will allow me to continue my lifelong path of serving others.”

In the Republican primary for state Senate District 11 (Woodburn, Gervais, Brooks and parts of Salem), former Marion County Commissioner Patti Milne defeated her challenger, Tom Chereck Jr., 83 percent to 16 percent.

In an emailed statement, Milne thanked the voters, her campaign team and her “faithful, hard-working volunteers.”

“The growing support, enthusiasm and momentum behind my campaign are overwhelming and humbling! Thank you all,” she said. “The time is right for me to go back to the state legislature and bring new leadership, experience, accountability and vision for a prosperous Oregon, and be a voice in the legislature for the people of State Senate District 11.”

Chereck said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the results.

“I will be assisting all the winning Republican candidates as they move forward in what way I can,” he said.

Milne will face state Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem, who has held the District 11 seat since 2003, in the general election in November.

For U.S. House Fifth District, U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader defeated challenger Anita Brown, 83 to 16 percent, in the primary to go up against Tootie Smith in November. Smith defeated Ben Pollock in the primary, 63 to 37 percent.

“I am grateful for all the Oregonians who turned out to support my campaign,” Schrader said. “I look forward to a spirited debate this fall.”

The two challengers seemed upbeat despite their election defeats.

“It has been about two months since I filed to be your representative and 16 percent, or 8,000 voters, supported me in the Democrat primary,” Brown wrote. “This is huge!”

Pollock said he knew from the start his campaign would be an uphill battle.

“To achieve the results that we did just shows how eager the voters are for new blood in Congress,” he said. “They’re tired of voting for the same professional politicians over and over, who simply use the same tired partisan talking points. We elevated the level of debate, focusing on the issues and giving the voters a fresh perspective.”

Only a third of eligible voters turned in their ballots statewide (33.8 percent), while the turnout in Marion County was even lower, at 28.6 percent.



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