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Our picks in the May 18 primary

Ballots were mailed Friday; they must be returned by election day

For the past week, we've been detailing in this column where we stand on the issues and the candidates in the May 18 primary election, for which ballots were mailed Friday. Following is a summary of our endorsements:

County commissioner:

Two Democratic Sues ' incumbent Sue Kupillas and challenger Sue Densmore ' are facing off for the single open position on the county Board of Commissioners. The Mail Tribune's editorial board split on its recommendation. Some of us gave the edge to longtime commissioner Kupillas, who is often effective and well-versed in county topics, and others favored Densmore, whose politics ' especially on natural resources issues ' are more likely to line up with traditional Democratic values. A detailed story on the race is available in Thursday's Mail Tribune, which can be found at under local news.

House District 5:

Two Ashland Democrats are vying for the opportunity to take the seat vacated by Rep. Alan Bates. We recommend Judy Uherbelau over Peter Buckley; Uherbelau was a strong, thoughtful legislator when she served earlier. She left Salem only because of term limits. Buckley is a breath of fresh air on the political scene but can't match Uherbelau's experience.

Senate District 28:

Three Klamath Falls-area Republicans are locked in the primary race to replace state Sen. Steve Harper in a five-county district that includes the Eagle Point area. We recommend David Penicook, a retired fire chief who lived in Jackson County from 1977-1991 and who appears willing to listen and compromise.

U.S. Senate:

Six virtual unknowns are in the running to challenge U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden in November. None has much of a chance of unseating him, but the best of the bunch is Al King, a rancher from Malin. King is a former GOP chairman in Klamath County and former vice chairman of the state Republican Party. He has a master's degree in public administration and has served as a municipal judge.

Secretary of state:

Republican voters will choose between a three-term legislator and a corporate attorney to take on Secretary of State Bill Bradbury in November. We recommend attorney Fred Granum, who impresses us with his enthusiasm for auditing and who has lengthy experience in complex financial issues.

Statewide judicial races:

Two contests for seats on the Oregon Supreme Court and one for the state Court of Appeals will be decided in the May primary. We recommend votes for the incumbents: Supreme Court justices Rives Kistler and William Riggs and Appeals Court Judge Robert Wollheim. None of the challengers in the races appears to be as qualified as the incumbents, a fact backed up by an Oregon State Bar poll in which members overwhelmingly favored Kistler, Riggs and Wollheim.