Our list of 10 legislative races to watch gave the District 24 (central Yamhill County) House contest between incumbent Republican Donna Nelson [no campaign site found] and Democratic challenger Sal Peralta a honorable mention status. But in the pattern of national congressional races, where the number of serious contests seems to have grown rather than expanded in these latter campaign days, this one has been taking on an increasingly serious tone, albeit in unconventional ways.
One of those is the absence of rancor or scandal. Those two candidates, together with the third in the race, Libertarian David Terry, faced off at the McMinnville City Club over lunch (in front of a substantial crowd of maybe 100 people). And the sparks didn't fly. The closest may have come after Peralta delivered an effective windup against the over-influence of key lobbyists in Salem and the favors they dispense. Nelson responded almost as if the comments were aimed at her; she said she takes her orders from the people back home, not from the lobbyists. But it was just an exclamation point; Peralta hadn't aimed the comments at her, and she didn't maintain that he had.
This is one of those classic civil political races which nonetheless holds real possibility of an upset come election day.
Again, we note "possibility," not certainty. Nelson has a lot of advantages. She's been community-active a long time, and a lot of people know her. Her biggest asset may be simple likeability; there's a natural gregariousness and friendliness. (A hard-core frontal attack probably would backfire.) Yamhill County is mostly Republican and tends conservative, which is what she is. Her electoral track record, though, while good, is less overwhelming than commonly thought. From a 55.2% win in 2000 she picked up to 59.3% in 2002, but then pulled just 53.6% against a lower-key challenge in 2004. That last may be a warning sign. (more…)