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From left, Republican Jessica Gomez and Democrat Athena Goldberg are the top money raisers so far in the Senate District 3 primary race.

Gomez, Goldberg lead Senate District 3 candidates in fundraising

Republican Jessica Gomez and Democrat Athena Goldberg have hauled in the most money of the six candidates in the 2018 primary campaign for Oregon Senate District 3.

Gomez leads the pack with $74,148 raised so far, $35,000 of it coming from the Alan DeBoer for State Senate campaign, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. DeBoer, the current state senator, threw his support behind Gomez after deciding not to run again. Sidney DeBoer, his brother and chairman of Lithia Motors, contributed $5,000 to Gomez.

Gomez’s Republican opponent, Curt Ankerberg, has filed a certificate with the Secretary of State’s Office indicating he expects to raise less than $3,500.

Goldberg comes in a close second in the money race, raising $69,785 this year, but $20,000 has come from a personal loan. The Coalition for a Healthy Oregon PAC (political action committee) has contributed $16,000 to Goldberg, who is behavioral health director for AllCare Health.

Ballots go out for the May 15 primary on Friday.

Democratic candidate Jeff Golden has raised the third-highest amount at $46,285 this year. His largest contributors are Ashland resident Kathryn Thalden at $10,000 and Wendy James Seldon at $9,000.

Golden had a balance left over from his campaign account of $17,680 from 2017.

Julian Bell comes in at a distant fourth in contributions, bringing in $5,988 this year, though he’s given himself a $1,500 loan. Last year, Ashland resident Ronald Schaaf kick-started Bell’s campaign with a $1,500 donation.

Kevin Stine, another Democrat, has received $882 so far this year in contributions. Stine had a balance of $1,410 in his account from 2017.

Gomez said she thinks her campaign is connecting with people, and she is spending money on social media and mailers. Like other candidates, she’s also knocking on doors.

“We’re spending some money in preparation for the general,” she said.

Gomez said that if she wins the primary, her campaign will not go negative, a strategy that has hurt other local campaigns for Senate District 3 in the past.

“We don’t need a lot of negative rhetoric,” she said. “We’ve got plenty of that on social media.”

Goldberg said she’s not surprised she’s getting money from political action committees, particularly those involved in the health care industry.

“I’m proud of that,” she said. “These are people that without that organization would be lost.”

As a person who has had a career in the health field, she said it’s not surprising to get money from those PACs. She said she has supported unions since she was a child growing up in a poor family.

“The only thing that kept us housed and fed was a union-supported job,” she said.

Golden said he’s proud of the fact that the money raised for his campaign has come from about 400 individual contributors.

“Every dime is an individual check without any coming from an organization,” he said. “I think that matters.”

He said he is worried about the general election because the powerful Koch brothers, who have funded conservative political campaigns, have vowed to plow $400 million into state legislative races to get more Republicans elected as states gear up to redistrict.

Bell said he’s seeing an effort by both the Goldberg and Gomez campaigns to persuade voters without providing a substantial message.

“A lot of people vote on the candidate based on whether they think they’re a nice person,” he said.

The candidates attempt to persuade voters to support things they ultimately wouldn’t like, Bell said.

“Voters are sick of the trickle-down economic theory,” Bell said, adding he believes Gomez is offering a new variation of that old idea.

Goldberg is receiving money from unions that support the Jordan Cove pipeline. Goldberg said she doesn’t support the pipeline.

“She has the veneer of elect-ability,” Bell said. “She has the people with financial resources backing her campaign.”

Even though Stine has received little in contributions, he says he has enough for the primary.

“I pretty much have the bones of what I need with fliers and yard signs,” he said. Stine is also going door to door to meet with voters.

“Regardless of who the Democratic candidate will be, the funds will become available to them in the general that aren’t available during the primary,” he said. “If you have lots of money and no message, you’re going to fail.”

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

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