Amanda La Bell has ended her campaign for state House District 54, which includes most of Bend, according to an announcement Wednesday by the Oregon Working Families Party.
La Bell, 41, saw her support evaporate over the past two days amid reports she falsely claimed a bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University in Georgia on her official Voters Pamphlet statement. Reports of earlier brushes with the law also came to light.
Though La Bell has suspended her campaign, the Secretary of State’s Office said it is too late to have her name removed from the ballot or to have the Voters Pamphlet statement withdrawn.
La Bell had been touted as a Democratic surrogate in the district, which has a Democratic voter edge but has supported Republicans in the last four elections. The seat is currently held by Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who is running for governor.
Nathan Boddie, a Bend city councilor, won the May 15 primary only to see his support dry up amid post-election allegations of sexual harassment. Though he has stopped campaigning, Boddie refused to relinquish the nomination and will appear on the November ballot as well as La Bell. The Republican candidate is Cheri Helt, a restaurateur and Bend-La Pine School Board member.
La Bell, running with the minor Working Families Party, was seen as a viable option. She would caucus with Democrats and support most of their agenda if elected. Democrats are currently one seat short of a supermajority in the House that would allow them to pass financial and tax legislation without Republican support.
In announcing La Bell was dropping her bid, the Working Families Party said it had vetted La Bell before giving her the endorsement.
“Unfortunately, she was not fully forthcoming in this process and neglected to share the information that was released to the public this week,” the party statement said.
“We are sorry that Bend voters will no longer have an opportunity to vote for a State Representative who can effectively fight for issues impacting Oregon’s working families,” the party statement said. “We are so grateful to the Bend residents who trusted us with this effort, and, above all, we are unwavering in our commitment to fighting hand-in-hand with the community for a Bend that works for all of us.”
Republicans had filed a formal complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office late Tuesday calling for an investigation of the Voters Pamphlet claim. Making a false statement in the pamphlet is a Class C felony in Oregon.
In a long letter Tuesday night, La Bell told supporters she had made mistakes but would stay in the race. However, prominent backers such as Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley rapidly withdrew their support.
“It’s important to me that I am fully transparent with you, my supporters, about my life experiences and how they have shaped who I am and what I stand for,” La Bell said in her Tuesday statement.
Neither La Bell nor her campaign officials knowingly made false claims, she said in the Tuesday letter.
“I realize that claiming to have earned a Bachelor’s degree is unacceptable and wrong, and I express my profound apologies to all affected by this,” she said.
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