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Witt girds for contested reelection bid

by: SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Brad Witt.If Republicans’ success in landing a candidate for the general election put a dent in state Rep. Brad Witt’s approach to his reelection campaign, the Clatskanie Democrat isn’t letting on.

Scappoose photographer Larry Ericksen, who ran a write-in campaign, secured enough votes in the Republican primary to win the nomination for Oregon House District 31, which covers all of Columbia County and small parts of Multnomah and Washington counties.

But Witt said Friday, June 13, it is business as usual, as far as he is concerned.

“I’m going to do what we always do, which is address those issues that are most meaningful to people, not only in House District 31, but also across Oregon,” said Witt.

Witt sends out a monthly newsletter highlighting his work in the Oregon Legislative Assembly and his thoughts on hot-button political issues, from efforts to protect a sage grouse in eastern Oregon to education reform.

Asked what issues he thinks are most potent in this election year, Witt said, “Jobs are always huge, particularly in rural Oregon, where there is oftentimes limited economic opportunity and areas that are slow to be coming out of the recession. And that very well defines our district, House District 31.”

Witt also named education and environmental protection among his top priorities.

Witt was first elected to the legislature in 2004.

HD-31 generally leans in favor of the Democratic Party. President Barack Obama won about 52.1 percent of the vote in the district two years ago, and all four Democratic statewide officeholders running for reelection in 2012 carried the district as well.

Republicans running to represent the district have historically not fared well.

Witt won reelection in 2012 with 53.2 percent of the vote. With Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates also on the ballot, Republican nominee Lew Barnes of North Plains only managed 41.7 percent.

Even in 2010, when Republicans badly beat Democrats in congressional midterms and nearly picked up Oregon’s governorship for the first time since the 1980s, Witt defended his seat from Scappoose Republican Ed DeCoste by a margin of 14.5 percentage points.

Ericksen will look to break the trend this year.

In an interview with the Spotlight earlier this month, Ericksen said he will also prioritize jobs and the middle class in his campaign. He also criticized regulations that he said take power away from people and elected legislatures.

Neither Ericksen nor Witt had much to say about one another. They are not personally acquainted, both told the Spotlight.