by: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - At the Highcliffe Restaurant in Oregon City, Democrat Brent Barton hugs his stepmom JoAnn Barton after defeating Steve Newgard in the Nov. 6 election.In defeating Steve Newgard, Brent Barton would lead a pack of Democratic legislators to a sweep of North Clackamas County in the Nov. 6 election, which seems likely, according to preliminary results.

In a race that both sides frequently turned negative, the graduate of Newport High School, Stanford University and Harvard Law School earned the endorsements of Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts and Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote.

Preliminary election results on Wednesday showed Barton leading Newgard 50.6 to 49.6 percent.

“It’s been a hard-fought campaign, but I respect my opponent, and he’s a good man,” Barton said.

Oregon Democrats have said they wouldn’t accept the results of the Clackamas County races until the Oregon Department of Justice had completed its investigation into alleged ballot fraud. But they had plenty of reasons to celebrate the local results Tuesday night.

State Rep. Carolyn Tomei (D-Milwaukie) easily defeated her challenger Tim McMenamin in a fairly quiet race in which both candidates raised less than $50,000 each. Jeff Reardon, who handily defeated 10-year incumbent state Rep. Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley) in the May primary, made good on his party’s nomination by defeating George “Sonny” Yellott by an even wider margin.

Barton, an attorney and former state representative, and Newgard, a construction contracting business owner, had opposing views on estate taxes and on how to solve the school funding crisis. Their wide-open and competitive race decides who replaces retiring state Rep. Dave Hunt (D-Gladstone) in the Legislature.

“Whoever wins this race, both sides need to work together to focus on schools and jobs,” Barton said. “It’s too early to tell what the political dynamics will be to achieve those goals.”

Barton was proudly against Measure 84, also on the November ballot, while Newgard was strongly in favor of phasing out by 2016 the 10 percent to 16 percent tax for estates worth more than $1 million. The measure failed by about a 7 percent margin.

Oregon City joined House District 40 following redistricting this year, so the candidates also argued about who can best represent the new area of the district in Salem. State Rep. Bill Kennemer (R-Canby) used to represent Oregon City and won his race easily this year in the more southern, Republican areas of Clackamas County.

Oregon City resident Barton, 32, was elected to the Legislature in 2008 but gave up his seat to run unsuccessfully for an Oregon State Senate position in 2010.

Cuts to the number of school days especially galls Barton, who says they hurt Oregonians twice, once in the classroom and again in discouraging corporate investment, and Clackamas County has seen particularly large funding shortfalls.

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