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Last chance for county's Republican candidates?

Professor Jim Moore sees demographic trends affecting area -

Who the heck are state Sen. Alan Olsen (R-Canby/Oregon City/Gladstone), state Rep. Brent Barton (D-OC/Gladstone), and state Rep. Shemia Fagan (D-East Portland/Clackamas)?

That’s the question challengers are counting on each voter asking so they have a chance of defeating these first-term incumbents, according to Jim Moore, director of the Tom McCall Center for Policy Innovation at Pacific University.

In giving his election predictions last week at a packed Oregon City Rotary Club meeting, Moore said that demographic trends will favor Democrats in Clackamas County, assuming the economy continues to improve. In the meantime, Republicans see an opportunity for Steve Newgard and Jodi Bailey beating Barton and Fagan, since the freshman Democratic legislators are at their most vulnerable at the moment.

But that vulnerability also goes for Olsen, another freshman legislator who is facing former Clackamas County Commissioner Jamie Damon in a redistricted area more heavily Democratic than when he was elected in 2010. But elections such as this November’s contests that don’t coincide with a presidential election tend to have a higher turnout for registered Republicans.

As for U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Moore said Oct. 1 he could have been knocked off after one term with a stronger Republican challenger, but Monica Wehby has been plagued by accusations surrounding plagiarism, stalking and intentionally skipping debates

“We’re watching the wheels come off the Monica Wehby campaign since she often doesn’t respond to scandals for three to five days,” Moore said.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber has the opposite issue getting re-elected since he is seeking an unprecedented fourth term. But voters are giving him a pass for his name recognition, Moore said, because Dennis Richardson has little credibility outside Salem or his hometown of Central Point.

“Richardson hasn’t built up that outside-the-Capitol-building persona needed to win,” Moore said.

Moore added that Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader also will keep a seat for Democrats in Washington D.C., even though polls show Congress at record-low approval ratings. Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith failed to raise sufficient campaign money to be competitive in the race.

Using polling data, Moore said that the GMO-labeling opponents will have a tougher time defeating the measure than the legalizing-marijuana opponents. However, he also reminded the crowd that polling data is at least plus or minus 3 percentage points, so it should be taken as an approximation.