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Democrat drops out of Dist. 26 race

Update: Patrick Whewell says he will not run.

ListerThe Republican race for House Dist. 26 is heating up, but on the Democratic side, a Wilsonville electrician has all but sealed his candidacy.

After the filing deadline earlier this month, three Republicans and two Democrats were in the running to claim the open seat in the state legislature left by Republican John Davis, who is not seeking re-election.

On Monday, Patrick Whewell, a software developer who filed to run for the seat in February, told Pamplin Media Group that he would be dropping out of the race.

"I have decided to not actively campaign for this election," Whewell wrote in an email. "A couple of things have come up in my personal life and I feel like I won't be able to dedicate the proper amount of time to run a proper campaign."

That leaves Democrat Ray Lister running effectively unopposed in the May Primary.

House District 26 spans a large area, running from Wilsonville through Sherwood, King City, Bull Mountain and into Aloha, as well as parts of Beaverton, Tigard and Hillsboro.

Lister, an electrician and union organizer, served on the Wilsonville Economic Development Strategy Task Force and is an active member of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Lister said he would be focused on improving education and the middle class.

“We need a representative that will stand up for the people of this community, working to create opportunity and protect our quality of life,” Lister said in a written statement. “I’m running to apply my experience working with local businesses and workers to create jobs and foster economic development.”

If Lister wins, he'll square off against the winner of the Republican primary. Former State Rep. Matt Wingard is running to reclaim the seat he gave up in 2012. Hillsboro attorney Armand Vial is also running in the race, as is King City's John Boylston who has already been endorsed by Davis.

Lister’s working class background has already earned him the endorsement of several union groups, including the Oregon Firefighters Council, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 and Oregon State Building & Construction Trades Council.

“Ray Lister has the hands-on experience to strengthen our economy in ways that benefit both working families and employers,” said John Mohlis, executive secretary of the Oregon State Building & Construction Trades Council. “We can count on him to look out for Oregon’s middle class.”

Washington County commissioners Dick Schouten and Greg Malinowski have also endorsed Lister, as well as Clackasmas County commissioner Jim Bernard and Wilsonville City Councilor Charlotte Lehan.

“I am incredibly thankful for the groundswell of support I’ve already received in this campaign,” said Lister. “I am hearing from people across this District excited about my candidacy and the opportunity for new, effective representation in the Legislature.”

Editor's Note: This story was updated to include new information from Patrick Whewell.