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East Medford's the charm

East Medford and Jacksonville area voters helped push Sen. Alan Bates to a more sizable win this election than in 2010, when he barely beat his opponent, Dave Dotterrer.

Cathy Shaw, Bates’ campaign manager, said Bates didn’t win many precincts in Medford, but he did gain enough votes to increase his overall lead.

“The biggest difference between this election and the election in 2010 is east Medford,” Shaw said. “East Medford tends to vote for a candidate more than a party.”

She believes the 1,781 undervotes, in which voters don’t select either candidate, were ones that Dotterrer lost because of the type of campaign he ran that turned off some voters.

“This time, and compared to 2010, it was a very different tone that Dave Dotterrer struck,” Shaw said. “It was much more aggressive and much more negative.”

According to the official election results, Bates received 27,667 votes (51.86 percent) to Dotterrer’s 23,694 (44.42 percent), a difference of 3,973 (7.4 percent).

Green Party candidate Art Krueger, who effectively dropped out of the race, received 1,915 votes.

Shaw said Krueger’s votes likely would have gone to Bates.

Early in the campaign, Bates supporters worried that Krueger’s entry into the race would make it more difficult for their candidate to win because Bates was only 282 votes ahead of Dotterrer in 2010.

Bates scooped up hefty majorities in Ashland, Talent and Phoenix, but he won only four precincts in Medford. Bates, whose Senate district encompasses the southern portion of Jackson County, won by a slim margin in Jacksonville and did well in rural areas around Jacksonville.

In some precincts in Ashland, Bates garnered more than 80 percent of the vote. His wins weren’t as big in Talent and Phoenix but still sizable. Bates won by 75 percent of the vote in Precinct 13, where Dotterrer resides.

In Jacksonville, voters gave Bates a 49 percent to 48 percent edge over Dotterrer.

Medford residents overwhelming voted against Bates in 10 of the 14 precincts.

Three precincts in southeast Medford and one downtown voted for Bates. Dotterrer received strong support in northeast and eastern Medford, garnering more than 60 percent of the vote in three of those precincts.

However, in total, Bates picked up enough votes in Medford along with the rest of the south county to give him a good lead over his opponent, Shaw said.

“It all adds up,” she said.

Negative campaigning will often depress voter participation, particularly among Republicans, Shaw said.

In this election, many voters were indignant at the kind of campaigning Dotterrer launched against his opponent, which Shaw said doesn’t play well with Jackson County voters.

“Do not tear people down,” Shaw said. “Advocate for your record.”

Dotterrer said he hadn’t analyzed the precinct vote count yet, saying he would leave that to John Watt, a Medford-based political analyst.

Dotterrer said he wanted to get a rundown of how voters cast their ballots in the race.

“I’m not surprised at the difference between Ashland and Medford,” he said.

Watt said he hadn’t yet looked at the precinct breakdowns, but he said statewide ballot measures helped drive people to the polls.

Democrats won big in many legislative races, garnering greater control of the House and the Senate.

“Look at some of the other Senate races in the state where challengers took on the incumbents,” he said.

However, Watt has said that he couldn't specify at this point why Dotterrer lost by a wider margin this time.

Chuck Heauser, outgoing chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said it is still difficult for him to tell how much ballot measures on GMO labeling and marijuana legalization had an effect on this election.

He said the precinct breakdowns probably won’t answer that question for him.

“I think we need to get deeper than just those numbers,” he said. “Some kind of polling would give a better understanding of why they voted the way they did.”

Heauser said he’s not prepared to say why Dotterrer didn’t attract more votes this time.

“All in all, he’s one of the strongest campaigners I know of,” Heauser said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.

Challenger Dave Dotterrer, left, lost to state Sen. Alan Bates, right, in the 2014 election by nearly 4,000 votes in Jackson County.
Precinct map by Fred Matamoros / Gatehouse Media