SALEM — The candidates for Bend’s state House seat will run unopposed in their primaries, while the congressional race that includes Deschutes County has drawn 10 candidates hoping to unseat 10-term U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River.
Tuesday was the final day for candidates to register to run for state offices in the May 15 primary election. The window to run closed at 5 p.m.
In the other key local state race, four newcomers will battle for the seat of retiring state Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver. Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who is giving up his state House seat, is among 16 candidates vying to beat Gov. Kate Brown, the incumbent Democrat. Democrats have won every election for governor since 1986.
As of the deadline, one Democrat and one Republican have filed to run in the 54th House District, the seat currently held by Buehler. The Democrat is Bend City Councilor Nathan Boddie. The Republican is Bend-La Pine School Board Member Cheri Helt. Boddie is a physician, and Helt is a restaurateur.
Democrats currently hold a 35-25-seat edge in the House — one vote shy of a supermajority that would allow them to pass financial bills, including taxes, without Republican help. Both parties have focused on the 54th District because of its unique voter demographics.
Democrats have a voter-registration edge of about 5,000 over Republicans in the district, but the seat has been held by Republicans for the last four elections in part because a third of all voters are “nonaffiliated.” Those voters cannot vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries, but do vote in the November general election.
Four people have filed to run for the 53rd House District, held by Whisnant. The district takes in a slice of Bend and much of the rest of Deschutes County in what lawmakers have likened to a “flattened doughnut” surrounding the city. Republicans hold a more than 2,500 voter registration edge over Democrats, but roughly a third of all voters are not affiliated.
Hoping to fill the void are four candidates — two Republicans and two Democrats. On the GOP side, the race will be between activist Ben Schimmoller of Bend and Realtor Jack Zima of Redmond.
Democrats will chose between Eileen Kiely, a semi-retired ski instructor from Sunriver and retiree Bill Trumble of Redmond.
In the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of Eastern, Central, and much of Southern Oregon, 10 candidates have signed up to try to stop Walden from winning an 11th two-year term.
Walden’s role as a leader of the Republican leadership in the U.S. House has attracted criticism for his stances in favor of the tax and health care policies of President Trump. He’s faced turbulent audiences during town hall appearances in Bend and Hood River, the two most Democratic enclaves in his heavily Republican district.
Walden has regularly won his district by more than 60 percent of the vote since he was first elected in 1998. The last time a Democrat won the district was in 1978. President Trump received 57 percent of the district’s votes in the 2016 presidential race.
However, surprising Democratic victories in other Republican strongholds in the nation have motivated a wave of Walden opponents.
Democratic candidates are: Eric Burnette, a retiree from Hood River; Michael Byrne, a stonemason from Parkdale; Jim Crary, a retiree from Ashland; Raz Mason, a teacher from The Dalles; Jamie McLeod-Skinner from Terrebonne; Jennifer Neahring, a physician from Bend; and Tim White, a retiree from Bend.
Republicans running for the seat are: Randy Pollock, a truck driver from Grants Pass; and Paul Romero Jr., an appliance technician from Prineville.
Mark Roberts, a truck driver from White City, is an Independent Party candidate.
Most of the early attention in the governor’s race has focused on the incumbent, Brown, and Buehler. If they win their respective primary on May 15, it would set up a rematch of the 2012 Secretary of State race, won by Brown.
While Buehler has outpaced his Republican rivals in fundraising and spending, several Republicans believe they can rally conservative voters in the Republican primary to snatch the nomination away from Buehler. They include Bend businessman Sam Carpenter and Greg Wooldridge, a Portland motivational speaker and career Navy officer who was a three-time commander of the elite Blue Angels squadron.
Also on the Republican ballot will be Keenan Bohach, a farmer from Keizer; Bruce Cuff , a real estate broker from Lyons; Jonathan Edwards III, a labor union official from Gresham; Jeff Smith Elgin, a computer programmer from Union; Brett Hyland, a former investment manager from Portland; David Stauffer, an entrepreneur from Portland; and Jack Tacy, a timber equipment operator from Lebanon.
Independent Party candidates are Skye Allen, a contractor from Portland; Shawn Liebling, a media company owner from Eugene; Dan Pistoresi, a businessman from Lincoln City; and Patrick Starnes, a cabinetmaker from Brownsville.
Two Democrats have filed to oppose Brown in the primary: Ed Jones, a Redmond businessman; and Candace Neville, a real estate broker from Eugene.
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