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OR 24: Worth watching, again

Al Hanson

Al Hanson

In mid-2006 we suggested some attention be paid to Oregon House District 24, a Republican-leaning area where the seat was held by apparently entrenched Republican Donna Nelson. Turned out she wasn’t quite so entrenched: In November she won, but only barely, her usual margin trimmed to a sliver.

Next cycle on, we’ll suggest again that attention be paid to this district: It looks to be up for grabs, though for reasons somewhat different. This time, Nelson apparently is not running for re-election. (She’s been less that completely conclusive on that, but her own caucus is presuming she’s out.) Instead, two little-known candidates have emerged on the Republican side: Ed Glad, a carpenter who has done some statehouse lobbying, and Jim Weidner, a restauranteur and software developer. Both come from the small community of Yamhill; neither is a local household name. Since their announcements of plan to run, neither has been especially visible. But either, presumably, would have a significant boost from their party’s nomination, since this central Yamhill County district is more Republican than Democratic.

However, the just-announced Democratic candidate could have the assets to counter that. He is Al Hanson, an attorney and an eight-year member of the city council at McMinnville, which is the district’s population center; people in about half of the district, in other words, have been voting for him. He also has a long list of civic activities, and in this tightly-connected community Hanson has the local establishment (including at least some of the local Republican business establishment) behind him.

That’s a significant factor, and it partly mirrors what allowed the 2006 Democratic candidate, Sal Peralta, to do so well against the personally well-liked Nelson. The mirror gets a little sharper when you see Peralta’s involvement and help with his campaign, just a bit in the background.

None of which is a prediction that the seat will flip parties this year – the odds of that will develop in the months ahead, as all three candidates (and there could be more) define themselves in the primary and beyond.

Just a suggestion that the prospect of a close contest here, again, isn’t at all unrealistic.

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