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Local Democrats may face three conventions to replace Bates

Democrats have discovered the task of finding a replacement for Alan Bates' Senate seat just became more complicated after retired Talent Police Chief Mike Moran announced his candidacy Friday.

Moran, a 61-year-old Medford resident, is currently running for House District 6 against Republican Rep. Sal Esquivel, and if he steps out of that race to run for Bates' seat in November, it sets up the possibility Democrats may have to hold three conventions to select candidates on Aug. 19.

"My first thought was, 'Just to go for the interim Senate position,'" Moran said. "That would give me some experience up in Salem. It occurred to me that perhaps the party would not have sufficient numbers of people for the full position."

Medford City Councilor Kevin Stine is also a candidate for Bates' Senate District 3 seat.

Initially Democrats scheduled two conventions on Aug. 19 at the Medford library: One to find an interim replacement for Bates, who died while on a fishing trip on the upper Rogue River Aug. 5, and the second to find a candidate who would run in the November election.

If Moran wins the candidacy for the November election for Senate District 3, he would step aside as the candidate for House District 6, which would prompt a third convention to select a new candidate to run against Esquivel.

"We haven't been through this before," said David Roadman, chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Party. "We are badly short of time to select a nominee."

A candidates' forum will start at 6 p.m. on the 19th, followed by the two, and possibly three, conventions.

Other political parties will hold a single convention to select a nominee in the November election. Dave Dotterrer, an Ashland Republican who ran against Bates twice, has said he's considering running for the office.

Democrats won't hold only one convention to replace Bates, because by law they must forward three to five names to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, a group of three Republicans, who will select the interim senator. But the commissioners' selection may not be the preferred choice of the Democrats to be on the ballot.

Both Moran and Stine said they would be candidates for the interim position as well as for the November election.

Stine, however, said he wouldn't be interested in becoming a candidate to run against Esquivel if Moran steps out of the House race. Esquivel is in a Republican-majority district and has held the seat since 2005.

But Moran said, "I think Kevin would be a good, viable candidate."

Moran said he hopes to see other Democrats step forward as candidates for the November election, and he said he would continue to run against Esquivel if he's not selected as the nominee for the Senate seat.

"I would be more than happy to stay in that race," he said.

A former police officer in Medford and Talent police chief from 2008 until April, Moran has held elected positions on the Medford School Board and with the Rogue Valley Transportation District.

Stine, 30, is a Navy veteran who was elected to the Medford City Council in 2014.

Both Moran and Stine are precinct committee persons, members of a group that will select the candidates for the Senate seat.

In the Aug. 19 convention, the precinct committee members will first select the three to five names to forward to the commissioners for the interim Senate slot, then vote on a nominee for the November election. Finally, they will vote on a nominee for House District 6, if necessary.

Roadman said there are about 60 precinct committee members representing Senate District 3 and more than half that number representing House District 6.

"Things are moving fast," Roadman said. "We’re looking for a good, strong candidate out there."

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