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Voters send incumbents back to Salem

Sen. Thomsen and Rep. Johnson win in Nov. 4 election

Republican incumbents from Oregon Senate District 26 and Oregon House District 52 will remain in office after victories in the Tuesday, Nov. 4, mid-term election.

Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, and Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, received majority votes over their Democratic challengers.

Thomsen, who was first elected to District 26 in 2010, defeated challenger Robert Bruce of Sandy 56 percent to 42 percent. As of Tuesday morning, Nov. 11, Thomsen has 23,971 votes to Bruce’s 18,204.

Thomsen led the race in Multnomah, Clackamas and Hood River counties, which make up Senate District 26.

He will return to serve another four-year term in Salem.

“Of course, we’re happy,” Thomsen said. “We’re thankful for all the support and help we got.”Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Sen. Thomsen

Thomsen fancies himself good with bipartisan cooperation, something he says is important to his constituents.

“I’ve always said you’ve got to be a moderate person to help this district,” he said. “I think I fit that.”

In early results released Tuesday night, Nov. 4, Democratic candidate Stephanie Nystrom of Corbett was leading the vote in Hood River County, Johnson’s home county. But as more votes were counted, Johnson took the lead in all three counties covered by House District 52, also including Multnomah and Clackamas counties.

Johnson was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 2010.

“We’re excited to go back,” Johnson said. He will return to Salem for his third two-year term.

As of Tuesday morning, Nov. 11, the incumbent has 12,809 votes to his opponent’s 10,629, leading 54 percent to 45 percent.

Johnson said as he and his team celebrated on election night, they wished there were better results for the Republican caucus, but were happy with their own outcome. Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Rep. Johnson

“We’ll continue to work hard for our district and our constituents,” he said.

Johnson said one of his biggest priorities for next session is a third-grade reading initiative on which he collaborated with Nancy Golden, Oregon’s chief education officer.

“If our 40-40-20 goals are going to mean something, we’re going to have to take some pretty bold action,” he said.

The initiative would focus on improving students’ reading levels from third grade on and provide new money investment in school systems to employ reading specialists and hopefully help lower class sizes.

While Johnson and Thomsen were breathing a sigh of relief on election night, others were far less than ecstatic.

“We definitely were not celebrating Tuesday night,” said Susan Gates, chairwoman for the Oregon Trail Democrats, which backed both Bruce and Nystrom. “But at least we got Merkley in.”

Gates said it’s hard to go up against incumbents. She added that the reason the group fought so hard to get Democratic candidates elected was because its members say the incumbents — Johnson and Thomsen — are serving their interests.

“We just hope our two legislators would listen to the other side,” Gates said.

With the exception of the Senate District 26 and the House District 52 seats, Democrats picked up a few more seats in state government.

“As a state we’re in a good place,” Gates said.