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Senate race goes to Golden

Democrat Jeff Golden won a seat in the Oregon Senate Tuesday, beating challenger Jessica Gomez by a healthy margin.

Golden had 32,348 votes, or 55.2 percent, to Gomez’s 26,119 votes, or 44.6 percent after late returns.

“It feels very validating,” Golden said. “It’s been a long, long year, full of high energy.”

With Golden winning, it appears the Senate may have a supermajority of Democrats, which makes it easier for one political party to pass tax legislation.

Democrats appear to have attained a supermajority in the House, picking up three seats and giving them 38 of the 60 seats in the Legislature.

Golden said there were a couple of Senate races that were still to close to call, so he didn’t want to claim a supermajority yet.

He said he was still wrapping his head around his sizable win, saying it was a tough campaign but that his message resonated with voters.

“People in this district want a fair economy and a much bolder approach to climate issues and the environment,” he said. “We need to deal with the wildfire smoke.”

At the same time, Golden said he hopes to get support to help areas of the state such as Jackson County, which are still struggling with cutbacks in the timber industry.

Besides developing a better economy, Golden said his priorities will be education, the health care system and making sure that large corporations do their part to support the state.

“We need to stand up to the multinational corporations that have run roughshod over our state,” he said.

He said Gomez ran a tough, dynamic race, and some of the negative campaign mailers sent out in the last month appeared to have little impact on the outcome.

“I want to say thanks to the people in the district who voted for Jessica and me,” he said.

Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland, currently holds the office but decided not to seek re-election. The district covers most of southern Jackson County, from Medford to Ashland.

Gomez said she did everything she could to get her name out there and to familiarize voters with her stance on the issues.

“To me, it looks like we’ve got a Sen. Golden,” she said.

Gomez said she attempted to get more name recognition among voters, and thinks that Golden’s name was more familiar with voters in the Senate district.

Besides name recognition, Gomez said she thought some of the volatile politics going on nationally affected her run.

“Unfortunately that trickled down to our local politics,” she said.

During the campaign, Gomez raised $569,759 and spent $551,793. Her biggest contributions were from Alan DeBoer for State Senate at $25,000, the Oregon Business and Industry PAC at $25,000, Karen DeBoer at $50,000, and Sidney DeBoer at $25,000.

Golden raised $184,180 and spent $90,441. His biggest contributions were from Kathryn Thalden at $10,000 and Wendy James Selden at $9,000.

Both Golden and Gomez attempted to run an issue-based campaign, trying to avoid some of the negative attacks in previous Senate District 3 races.

However, outside groups sent out attack mailers and videos, with particularly nasty hit pieces against Golden in the two weeks leading up to Election Day.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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