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Our view: With respect, our support goes to Bates

State Sen. Alan Bates has come in for some scurrilous attacks from his opponent, Dave Dotterrer, in the current campaign. In the end, the negative half-truths put forward in that campaign serve only to discredit Dotterrer.

Bates, a Medford Democrat, has a record he is deservedly proud of. A physician, he is a leading architect of Oregon's health care reform efforts — but not Cover Oregon's computer system — that are already making amazing progress in reducing costs for Medicare patients in this state. The plan, which uses a coordinated approach to treat all of a patient's needs rather than just fixing an obvious symptom, is reducing return visits and reducing costs for taxpayers.

Dotterrer's suggestion that Bates is somehow responsible for the Cover Oregon computer fiasco is painfully shallow. It makes about as much sense as blaming Dotterrer, a now-retired career military officer, for the military's purchase of $640 toilet seats and $400 hammers. Those toilet seats should be raised and the contents of that claim flushed out of sight.

Dotterrer's negative ad campaign suggests Bates is not a supporter of education, using a young girl in a television ad that is as distasteful as it is bogus. Bates is a former school board member and has supported education throughout his more than dozen years in the Legislature. In the last session, with the economy finally turning, the Legislature approved a $1 billion increase for K-12 funding, which Bates supported.

Dotterrer's campaign now has sunk to the level of  Willie Horton-type ads, accusing Bates of voting to release violent and sexual predators. The vote referred to occurred in 2009 as the state was mired in the Great Recession and budgets were being cut almost across the board. The Senate voted 22-8 — with several conservative Republicans joining in — to reduce the sentences of some non-violent offenders by 10 percent in certain circumstances, a move projected to save $6 million. It was part of a larger effort to reduce the incarceration of non-violent offenders and avoid the massive costs of building more prisons.

The bill was not perfect, but to suggest Bates supported the release of predators is patently false. Perhaps Dotterrer would explain where the hundreds of millions of dollars for new prisons would have come from during a time of plunging revenues?

Dotterrer worked for state Rep. Dennis Richardson, now running for governor, in recent sessions and has similar views on the need to cut government spending. He has some ideas that hold merit, such as returning technical education to classrooms. He also suggests more tax breaks for small businesses, but there's little suggestion about what would be cut to pay for such programs and breaks.

Southern Oregon and the state of Oregon have been well-served by Alan Bates' time in office. He is a moderate on most issues and has to be to be re-elected in a Senate district in which election results have often come down to hundreds of votes. His health care reform efforts have accomplished what politicians promise, but seldom deliver: improved public services at lower costs.

Bates has earned the respect of leaders in both parties across the state. Dotterrer should show him some of that respect and drop his appalling ad campaign.

And voters in Senate District 3 should send Alan Bates back to Salem to continue his good work.