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Western Washington County aids Dems gains in Salem

Gallegos and Unger take big leads in House races


Western Washington County voters seemed game to do their part to aid in a Democratic takeover of the Oregon House.

In early returns both Republican incumbents from House Districts 29 and 30 were flagging behind their Democratic challengers in vote shares that looked similar to the partisan registration in the districts.

In House District 29, Ben Unger was earning 53 percent of the vote against state Rep. Katie Eyre, who was getting 47 percent.

In House District 30, Joe Gallegos was earning 50 percent of the vote against state Rep. Shawn Lindsay, who was getting 45 percent. Libertarian candidate Kyle Markley was earning 5 percent of the vote.

Both races drew big money to the districts and triggered a flood of television and print advertising.

In the District 29 race Unger turned out to be a prodigious fundraiser, raising $614,685. That led Eyre’s fundraising by $16,958. She raised $597,726.

Unger, who grew up in the district before heading off to jobs in Chicago, then Portland doing political organizing and electioneering is a first-time candidate. But he worked on the successful campaign of former Attorney General John Kroger and at the Oregon Department of Justice. He also worked on the campaign for Measure 49, the Oregon land-use law meant to curb the effects of Measure 37.

Eyre, who won handily in the district in 2010 during her first bid for the statehouse, had previously served on the Hillsboro planning commission and chaired the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. As a CPA, Eyre used her eye for detail in budgeting to poke holes in the state’s case for the Columbia River Crossing project, helping her make an outsized splash for a rookie legislator.

The campaign between the two quickly turned tough, with Eyre going negative early on in the race, alleging that Unger’s support for a school property tax increase was a targeted tax against the elderly. Democrats shot back later in the campaign, suggesting Eyre wasn’t truly devoted to adequate school funding.

The district spans from Brookwood Avenue in Hillsboro west to Gales Creek, including the communities of Forest Grove, Cornelius and downtown Hillsboro. Democrats make up 38 percent of registered voters in the district and hold a registration advantage of 2,123 voters over Republicans.

House District 30

Incumbent Shawn Lindsay also easily won election to HD30 in his first bid for state office in 2010. Lindsay, an intellectual property lawyer, earned high marks for a freshman by handling the GOP’s side of the bargaining over statewide redistricting. Gallegos, a retired University of Portland professor active in the Portland region’s Latino community made his first bid for public office after Democratic candidate Adriana Canas dropped out of the race after revelations that she had filed for bankruptcy twice. Gallegos was nominated by party leaders and, with little time to spare, quickly put together a campaign apparatus.

While he raised $578,677, 62 percent of the money came from two sources: Future PAC, controlled by House Democrats and Citizen Action for Public Education, a PAC controlled by the Service Employees International Union. Gallegos fundraising total put him $58,066 over Lindsay’s fundraising of $520,610.

While Lindsay’s political message to voters was that of a centrist legislator that could work across the aisle. He was dinged by his house colleague Chris Garrett, a Lake Oswego Democrat that worked with Lindsay during redistricting when Lindsay touted a glowing quote from Garrett about Lindsay’s performance during the redistricting effort. Garrett thought it made it seem like he was endorsing Lindsay in the race.

Gallegos, with help and direction from house Democratic leadership, attacked Lindsay for his support of Mitt Romney, trying to tie him to traditional Republican stances.

The district includes north Hillsboro, including Orenco and much of the Tualatin Valley plain north of Forest Grove and Cornelius. Democrats make up 37 percent of registered voters in the district and hold a registration advantage of 2,254 voters over Republicans.

Both districts, with a Democratic voter registration edge, were key components of a strategy by the Democratic Party to regain the Oregon House, which was tied after the 2010 election.



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  • 19 Sep 2014

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