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Two more enter fray to replace Bates

A second doctor and a longtime local journalist have entered the competition to fill the seat of the late state Sen. Alan Bates, pushing the number of Democratic candidates to 12.

Dr. Anne Alftine, director of clinical integration at Jackson Care Connect CCO, said she's in a position to step into Bates' shoes and immediately carry on his work on health care at the state level.

“We face a critical time for health care that will have a significant impact on our state budget," Alftine said in a press release. "We need someone who can, on day one, step into Senator Bates’ role and understand the complexities of Coordinated Care Organizations and guide the process.”

Alftine, the mother of two teenage daughters, is the second doctor to enter the race.

Dr. Richard Schaefer, director of Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center’s cardiac rehabilitation program, entered the fray earlier this week and has already racked up a slate of endorsements, including state Rep. Peter Buckley, William Thorndike, Jr., head of Medford Fabrication, and local political consultant Cathy Shaw, who was Bates' campaign manager.

Also entering the race Thursday was local journalist John Darling, who said he would like to fill the seat in the interim until a new senator is elected in November and takes over Jan. 1, 2017.

Darling worked as a political reporter for United Press International in the 1960s, as executive assistant to Senate President Jason Boe, D-Reedsport, in the 1973 session, as legislative assistant to Sen. Lenn Hannon of Ashland in the 1977 session, and for Sen. Jeannette Hamby, R-Hillsboro.

Darling, the father of three, was an anchor and news director for KOBI-TV in 1972-73 and 1981-83, he was Southern Oregon correspondent for The Oregonian in the '80s, and has been a freelance journalist for the Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings since the mid-1980s.

In a convention set for Friday evening, Democrats will choose a nominee to run in the November election, as well as three to five candidates from whom the Jackson County Board of Commissioners will choose to fill the seat until the end of the year.

Commissioners will fill the interim position by Sept. 6.

The Democrats will meet at 6 p.m. Friday in the Medford library with a question-and-answer-style forum for the public to get to know the candidates, followed by the conventions at 7 p.m.

The Republicans' convention to choose their nominee for the Senate seat will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Inn at the Commons. So far no Republican candidates have announced, though Dave Dotterrer, who ran against Bates twice, said he's considering entering the race.

Dr. Anne Alftine
John Darling