The end of the year saw a flurry of mass emails from candidates in the 2014 elections. Most, but not all, urged potential donors to take advantage of the state's political tax credit of $50 per person.

Democratic Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley took a different tack, however, urging supporters to donate a mere $3 to his ongoing fight against "big oil, big coal, big agriculture, Wall Street, and more than a few well-heeled right-wing activists." We assume he figures most contributors will think they can afford more than that.

But Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson went a step further in his uphill campaign for Oregon governor. He did not ask for money in an email "Christmas message." Instead, after bemoaning the plight of those whose futures are not so bright, he invited them to contact his office for assistance. "Do not hesitate to call on us, if we can be of service to you," Richardson wrote on Dec. 23.

It's probably worth noting Richardson has only reported raising around $185,000 in cash and in-kind contributions so far, compared with nearly $325,000 for the man he hopes to unseat, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber.

No refund for Cogen’s generosity

Before he was forced out of public life, former Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen was one of the state's most generous public figures.

When he wasn't running for office, Cogen donated thousands of dollars from his campaign committee to various candidates and political causes. In 2012, Cogen contributed to Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian, Democratic state Rep. Ben Unger, Metro Councilor Sam Chase, Clackamas County Commissioner Charlotte Lehan, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the committee supporting the Multnomah County library district and more.

None of those campaigns has returned the contributions since Cogen resigned his position in disgrace last year. Despite that, his campaign committee still has more than $16,000 in the bank. It will be interesting to see if anyone accepts a contribution from it this year.

Counties juggle interests for House seat

Although Oregon House District 38 represents parts of Multnomah and Clackamas counties, residents in the various communities do not see eye to eye on every issue.

For example, many residents in the Southwest Portland section of the district are active in planning a new high-capacity transit corridor between downtown and Tualatin. But in the Clackamas County portion, the Lake Oswego City Council opposed extending the Portland Streetcar to that city.

That will raise the stakes when the Multnomah County Commission and Clackamas County Commission choose the replacement for former state Rep. Chris Garrett, the Lake Oswego Democrat who plans to leave his position after he was appointed last week to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Three candidates are seeking the nomination so far. They are Lake Oswego attorneys Ann Lininger (a former Clackamas County commissioner) and Sonya Fischer, and Moses Ross, a political consultant who chairs the Multnomah Neighborhood Association in Portland.

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