Labor race will share ballot with Presidential election

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Steven Price ruled Wednesday afternoon that the election for Oregon Labor Commissioner should happen in November.

The ruling backs the interpretation of Secretary of State Kate Brown, whose office determined that a 2009 law passed by the Oregon Legislature ultimately would delay the race from May, when both candidates originally thought it would be held.

The news of the change in schedule made it to state Sen. Bruce Starr, a Hillsboro Republican challenging sitting Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, last Friday after a staffer contacted the Secretary of State's office about the campaign's filings for the voter's pamphlet.

In light of the news, Starr sued Brown's office, seeking redress from the courts to reschedule the election for May.

Lawyers for Starr argued that a lack of evidence in the legislative record indicating that legislators knew the language of the 2009 law would shift the election date should invalidate the provision. (Starr voted against the 2009 law.)

Instead, the court should uphold the intent of the legislature. Price disagreed.

The upset could hurt Starr more than Avakian.

Starr has raised about $81,000 this year and spent nearly half of it, leaving him with $42,205 in his campaign coffers. Avakian has raised about the same amount and has $64,566 on hand.

As a prominent Democrat, Avakian will likely now have an electoral advantage in the fall vote, which will likely draw Democratic voters to the polls to support Barack Obama.

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