Republican Jessica Gomez and Democrat Jeff Golden are the apparent winners in the Senate District 3 primary Tuesday night and will face off in the November general election.
“I’m excited, I’m overjoyed,” said Gomez, a political newcomer.
According to Jackson County Elections, Gomez had 53.65 percent of the vote with 45.94 percent going to opponent Curt Ankerberg, whose campaign was overtaken by issues about his temperament and tax fraud problems as well as his sharply worded attacks against his rivals.
Golden, who has run for several offices over the years and was a county commissioner from 1987-91, held a commanding lead of 52.35 percent over his opponents — Athena Golderg at 35.57 percent, Julian Bell at 5.88 percent and Kevin Stine at 5.65 percent.
“I’m really happy, it’s really gratifying,” Golden said.
The Senate district encompasses Medford, Phoenix, Talent, Ashland, Jacksonville and part of the Applegate Valley.
In another Legislative race, Michelle Blum Atkinson won the Democratic nomination handily against Rick Schreffler for House District 6, with 84.64 percent, or 3,301 votes, in early returns. Schreffler had 14.23 percent, or 555 votes.
The Medford businesswoman and co-owner of Procare Software will face off against Republican nominee Kim Wallan, a Medford city councilwoman who ran unopposed. The winner will succeed Rep. Sal Esquivel, who decided not to run for re-election after seven terms.
In the Senate race, Golden received 6,825 votes, followed by Goldberg with 4,637 votes, Bell with 767 and Stine with 736.
Golden, after his stint as a county commissioner, ran for Senate District 3, losing to Lenn Hannon.
In 2010, Golden made another bid for Jackson County commissioner, losing to Don Skundrick.
Golden hosted “The Jefferson Exchange,” a daily public radio talk show, from 1998-2007 and in 2011 created the weekly Southern Oregon Public Television series “Immense Possibilities.”
Golden said he didn’t have any good idea how this election would play out, but he said he thinks his campaign did a good job getting his message out.
He said it’s too hard to predict how he’ll do over the next six months going into the general election.
“I ran in an election 25 years ago that I really thought I was going to win,” Golden said, referring to his previous run for the Senate seat.
He said he thought Goldberg did a good job getting her name and her positions out in the primary.
Golden said his campaign will definitely shift focus during the general against his opponent, Gomez.
“There are some pretty stark differences that you didn’t hear in the primary,” he said.
But Golden said he will continue to offer a positive campaign that fends off any attempts by Salem party leaders to influence the local election.
“It would be really nice if we could run our own election and elect our own senator,” he said.
As a Democrat, Golden has a 7,000-vote registration advantage in the Senate district. The wild card might be the nonaffiliated voters, whose numbers are higher than those registering as Republicans.
Gomez said she didn’t know what to expect from voters, though many Republicans had voiced strong opposition to her opponent.
“I never take anything for granted,” she said. “I didn’t come into this with any real expectations. I haven’t gone through this process before.”
Jessica Gomez pulled 4,544 votes to Ankerberg’s 3,891.
A Medford resident and founder and CEO of Rogue Valley Microdevices, Gomez was supported by Sen. Alan DeBoer, who decided not to seek re-election. Gomez worked as an aide for DeBoer in Salem since the end of last year.
Gomez, who worked to maintain a positive campaign, was critical of The Leadership Fund, backed by Senate Republicans, for putting out a mailer criticizing Ankerberg because it was the kind of negative attacks she wouldn’t support in the campaign.
She said she’s spent a lot of time with the Senate Republican caucus discussing what is appropriate campaign literature for Southern Oregon.
“We’re trying to work things out, and there were some mistakes,” she said.
Going forward she said there will be more communication with her campaign before The Leadership Fund sends out any other mailers.
She said she realizes she still doesn’t have good name recognition with local voters.
“It can make it harder,” she said. “But it is by no means unattainable.”
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.