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DeBoer and Moro in tight Senate race

Former Ashland Mayor Alan DeBoer was holding on late lead Tuesday over Democrat Tonia Moro in a tense Senate District 3 race to fill the seat opened by the death of former state Sen. Alan Bates.

In a vote totals released just before 10 p.m. by the Jackson County Elections Office, DeBoer, the Republican nominee, tallied 30,064 votes, or 50 percent of those counted. Moro, a lawyer, had 28,499 votes for 49 percent.

Both candidates believed the race was so close that it won't be settled until the final counts.

"I don't think the numbers are telling me anything," DeBoar said from the Republican Party gathering at the Rogue Valley Country Club after the numbers were released. "We will have to wait for all the votes to be counted.

"I'm going home and going to bed," he said. "We'll see what happens."

The race between the Republican businessman and Moro has been a testy one, with attack ads by Moro against DeBoer drawing criticism even from some Democrats who said it was a poor legacy for Bates, who was staunchly opposed to negative campaigning.

One television ad painted DeBoer as cow-towing to developers as Ashland's mayor in the early 2000s, though the video and ensuing mailer provided no details or context surrounding the claims. 

Moro said Tuesday night she was confident that the extensive door-to-door canvasing she and her backers did in the heavily Democratic district got her message out that she wants to represent the working-class majority.

"It's about the most of us," Moro said. "Most of us are not the biggest corporations and the wealthiest individuals.

"I advocate for rebuilding the middle class," she said. "It's good for all of us."

Though it was a short campaign, the candidates together spent almost $1.2 million in the race, according to candidate filings with the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

DeBoer's latest filing showed he outspent Moro, collecting $648,045.30 and spent all but $49,912.84 of it. Moro collected $591,526.13 and spent all but $15,532.42, records show.

Moro, 52, is chair of the Rogue Valley Transportation District board and has served on several city councils within Jackson County and once ran unsuccessfully for a Jackson County Board of Commissioners seat. 

DeBoer, 65, the owner of TC Chevrolet in Ashland and Airport Chevrolet in Medford, is a lifelong Ashland resident who served as the city's mayor from 2001 to 2004 after serving two years on the City Council and eight years on the Ashland School Board.

Bates, who was first elected to the Oregon Senate in 2004, died of an apparent heart attack during an Aug. 5 fishing trip with his son. He was 71.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Tonia Moro watches election results at the 'Blue Bash Party' at the Inn at the Commons in Medford. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Supporters cheer for Alan DeBoer, center, as initial returns show him with a slight lead over Tonia Moro for the Senate District 3 seat. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta