It’s been called the $1 million race, but so far the two opponents for Senate District 3 have hauled in just over $500,000 with a month left to go before Election Day.
Medford Republican Jessica Gomez has raised the most at $393,484 and has spent most of it, leaving her with a cash balance of $24,290, according to the Oregon Secretary of State on Wednesday. PACs, businesses and high-dollar donors have contributed extensively to her campaign.
Ashland Democrat Jeff Golden, who has vowed to avoid PAC money, has received $159,730 and has spent $68,536. Golden’s money comes mostly from 278 individual donors who have contributed more than $100. He has received 922 donations from individual donors of $100 or less.
“I happen to think that ‘follow the money’ is a pretty good rule for predicting how somebody is going to vote,” said Golden, a longtime TV and radio host and former county commissioner.
Gomez said she doesn’t have as much name recognition as Golden, who has been in local politics for decades, so she has a different strategy to get voters’ attention, while vowing she won’t be beholden to PACs who’ve invested in her campaign.
“It’s not going to affect my vote,” she said. “I will remain dedicated to make the best decisions for Southern Oregon.”
The District 3 seat is currently held by Alan DeBoer, an Ashland Republican who supports Gomez. DeBoer and other members of his family have contributed more than 25 percent of the money Gomez has raised in the campaign so far. Alan DeBoer has contributed $41,534, Sidney DeBoer has donated $30,000 and Karen DeBoer gave Gomez $25,000.
Gomez has received $30,000 from the Oregon Business and Industry Candidate PAC. She also has received in-kind contributions of $32,125 from No Supermajorities PAC, made up of House and Senate Republicans hoping to prevent Democrats from getting a supermajority in the Legislature.
The ChamberPAC, made up of Medford chamber officials, contributed $10,000 to Gomez’s campaign.
The Leadership Fund, the campaign arm of Senate Republicans, has supported Gomez’s campaign with various contributions, including mail and other advertisements, totaling $26,293.
A total of $20,000 in cash has come in from AGC Committee for Action, which supports the commercial construction industry. She has received approximately 100 contributions from local residents.
Gomez said she welcomes support from business leaders throughout the state.
“We need people in the Legislature who have a business background,” said Gomez, who runs Rogue Valley Microdevices.
Gomez said she’s spending her money on advertising and marketing, including social media, TV commercials and political mailers.
She said Golden has been running for offices since she was in elementary school.
“Many people don’t know who I am,” Gomez said.
Golden’s biggest contributors include $10,000 from Ashland resident Kathryn Thalden and $11,500 from Wendy James Seldon.
He’s received $2,000 from Jackson County Democrats, a PAC.
Golden said he would be sending out mailers in the near future, but he has generally avoided investing in mailers, TV or radio ads, preferring to concentrate his efforts on social media, particularly Facebook.
“There is only so much money you can spend effectively in this market,” he said. “You could put a flier in a mailbox every day for two weeks, but so what?”
As a voter himself, Golden said he gets annoyed with the amount of campaign literature in his mailbox, and he expects others do, too. He said some campaign managers push their candidate into spending on this type of marketing even though he sees little value from it.
He said he’s also concerned about how campaigns raise their money and who’s giving them the money.
“I am someone who thinks that how you raise funds is very important,” Golden said.
Some of the contributions that Gomez has received have caused concern for him, including from oil, insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
Overall, this Senate District 3 campaign hasn’t been as costly as in the past. Golden said he was warned that the Koch brothers, who have invested heavily in conservative campaigns across the country, would be pouring money into this race. However, out-of-state money hasn’t been a factor so far.
“I was surprised by it,” he said. “We were told to expect a mountain of money.”