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Vial on top in House District 26's Republican primary

Rich Vial.Oregon Republican Party luminaries got their top choice in the race for House District 26, a sprawling Southwest Metro district that stretches from Hillsboro to Sherwood and Wilsonville.

Unofficial returns as of Wednesday placed Washington County Planning Commission Chairman Rich Vial ahead of primary opponents John Boylston of King City and Matt Wingard of Wilsonville with 46.9 percent of the vote. Wingard trailed with 29.4 percent, with Boylston in third at 23.3 percent.

Vial, a farmer and attorney by trade who lives in Scholls, received endorsements from House Republican Leader Mike McLane, Washington County Commissioners Roy Rogers and Bob Terry, and former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, among other prominent Republicans.

Vial said after the 9 p.m. election night update that he is happy with the results of the race.

“I’m awfully grateful to my family and friends and the folks that voted for me,” he said. “I’ve learned over the years that the opportunity to serve is really the thing that gives life meaning ... and I really look forward to what I might learn and the satisfaction that I might get from having the opportunity to serve in Salem.”

State Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville, declined to seek another term this year. He had endorsed Boylston as his successor, but Boylston — who relocated from Portland to King City just last year — struggled to carve out a strong position in the three-way race after Vial and Wingard, a former state representative, announced their candidacies.

Vial will face Ray Lister, an electrician and union organizer who lives in Wilsonville, in the general election. Lister was winning 76.9 percent of the vote over opponent Patrick Whewell, who did not campaign actively for the seat, in unofficial election results in the Democratic Party primary as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to a great general election race,” Lister said Tuesday night. “I’ve met Rich Vial recently, and he’s a decent man.”

Vial also had warm words for Lister, saying he “seems like a very nice man.”

“I have no concern about the kind of campaign that he’ll run or the kind of human being that Ray is, and I look forward to a discussion of the issues that will help voters decide who might best represent them in Salem,” Vial said.

Lister said he anticipates a “clean” race focused on the issues facing the district, such as transportation and education funding.

While District 26 has long been represented in Salem by Republicans, Lister said he sees a trend toward Democrats in the area and believes voters will make their choice based on the candidates that are running, not their party affiliations.

“I think we’ve got a really good shot,” he said.

Pamplin Media Group profiled both the Republican candidates and Lister in the weeks leading up to the election.