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Mail Tribune editorial

The Medford Republican has gained clout, respect in the Oregon House

If you're a true-blue Democrat, state Rep. Rob Patridge probably isn't your favorite guy. But beyond his moderately conservative leanings, it's hard to find a place to lay much criticism of the Medford representative's conduct in Salem.

He has climbed the ranks of respect and clout since his election in 1998 and today is majority whip, the fourth ranking member of the House. He understands the troublesome issues that will face the assembly when it returns to Salem in January. And unlike many other members of the Legislature this year, he has shown willingness to compromise to resolve Oregon's economic woes.

We aren't handing out praise for the last Legislature, which dragged Oregon through five torturous special sessions in the process of trying to resolve a &

36;1.7 billion budget shortfall. But Patridge was one of a handful of lawmakers who worked toward a budget compromise rather than against it.

Today he remains part of a group of Republicans who favor a dedicated source of education funding and a stable tax structure and are willing to talk about the possibility of a sales tax.

None of this moderation helps the cause of his opponent, retired educator and Democratic Party activist Barbara Davidson. Davidson, who also challenged Patridge in 2000, is no match in experience, energy or ideas.

She takes Patridge to task for the Legislature's failures but in interviews has offered few concrete suggestions of her own to patch up the economy. She is well versed on education but has limited knowledge of other subjects she would need to understand in Salem. If Medford residents elect her in Patridge's place, this area will have less clout in the House.

And what of her views on the budget? The state, Davidson says, needs to review its whole revenue-gathering process. If she had been serving in the last Legislature, she would have favored increasing Oregonians' taxes without referring the plan to voters.

That, frankly, is the kind of dig-in-your-heels approach that kept legislators from reaching a deal early on and forced Oregon into nearly a year of budget limbo. As long as control of the houses remains as evenly balanced as it was this year, it isn't going to work any better next session.

Patridge has the experience to know that and to be a meaningful part of getting the Legislature's work done. While his persistent political aspirations can sometimes rub peers and constituents the wrong way and his views may be too conservative for some, he is an effective, reasonably moderate voice for the district.

The Mail Tribune recommends that Medford voters return Rob Patridge to Salem in House District 6.