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Entries in Dave Nelson (2)


Legislative Control Center of Political Battles

Candidate filing day produced one clear conclusion — the political battles in Oregon this year will center on House and Senate races key to determining which party is in control when the 2013 legislature convenes. The House is split 30-30 and Democrats narrowly control the Senate 16-14.

Republicans failed to field a candidate for state treasurer or attorney general, even though the latter will be an open seat. Republican Bruce Starr is challenging Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, a Democrat, but it is a non-partisan post.

Republicans and Democrats see the battle for control of the House through different lenses. Rep. Kevin Cameron, R-Salem, told The Oregonian, "I want to avoid the one-party situation in the future so at least there's a healthy balance in the policy coming out of this building."

Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said, "Democrats were blocked from passing stronger consumer legislation and from more closely scrutinizing tax breaks that take away money for services. We are going to get a lot of national attention... Oregon is one of the most likely legislative chambers in the country to shift to Democratic control."

Retirements could play a significant role in tipping the partisan balance in both the House and Senate. Two GOP senators are calling it quits — Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, and Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton. Both seats tilt heavily Republican. However, the Senate seat held by retiring Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, could prove pivotal. 

House Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, is running for the seat against Scott Roberts, a Coos Bay physician. Roblan beat Roberts in 2010 in a House race. If Roblan wins again, the seat will remain in the Democratic column and it may be difficult for Republicans to control, or even earn a 15-15 split.

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Legislature to Lose Two Veterans

Two veteran moderate Republican legislators have announced they won't run for re-election. Their retirements will be a loss for the legislature.

Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, who owned radio stations, served three terms in the House after a stint as a county commissioner — where he became the first Klamath County commissioner to win re-election in more than 100 years. Senator Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton, came to the legislature in 1996 with a background as a wheat rancher with a law degree.

From geographical extremes — Southern and Eastern Oregon — Garrard and Nelson carved out moderate reputations in Salem. They accomplished the tough feat of representing conservative districts while finding a way to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including more liberal colleagues from urban Oregon. Their ability to find middle ground on tough policy is a hallmark of their legislative service.

Garrard and Nelson found status in Salem as members of the Joint Ways and Means Committee where they worked across party lines to craft compromises on thorny budget issues.  

Garrard was best known for his work on land-use during controversy over ballot measures dealing with property rights. His experience running a radio station in a rural area made him sympathetic to the plight of other small business operators — and underdogs in general.

Nelson battled to build electronic infrastructure, not only in Eastern Oregon but throughout the state.  One of his accomplishments — the "Nelson Technology and Opportunity Partnership” —rightfully bears his name. On Ways and Means, he led efforts to pinpoint appropriate investments for the State Radio Project, a major effort to provide interoperable public safety communications capabilities throughout the state.  

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