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Dark money shades Senate race

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Attack mailers have been dropping in Jackson County mailboxes for the Senate District 3 race, targeting Republican Jessica Gomez’s stance on abortion and Democrat Jeff Golden’s views on women.

Dark money from an unknown political group has also cast a shadow over the race, with one mailer attacking Golden for being “Wrong on women,” based on what he describes as out-of-context quotes from his book, “Watermelon Summer,” depicting his 1971 summer on a black cooperative farm in Georgia.

Southern Oregon Priorities PAC (a political action committee) came out with a mailer over the weekend attacking Gomez’s record on “a woman’s right to choose,” indicating she doesn’t support a pro-choice agenda. Southern Oregon Priorities couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Both Gomez and Golden have condemned the mailers, which have been distributed without their knowledge or approval.

“We don’t need that kind of stuff in this race,” Gomez said. “Those kind of materials don’t belong down here.”

She said numerous mailers have been sent out on Golden’s behalf. “They’re essentially running a campaign for him,” she said.

Both social media and the mailers have put out a message that varies considerably from the kind of message she hopes to give voters.

“I want to run on a policy-based platform,” Gomez said. “Ours is about issues such as jobs and education. I want to introduce voters to what I plan to do if elected.”

She said she continues to focus on knocking on doors and getting out a positive message.

Gomez said she hadn’t seen a mailer over the weekend from Southern Oregon Priorities that attacked her stance on abortion.

The mailer says Gomez claims she’s pro-choice but supports Measure 106, and the mailer refers to that position as a “back-door ban on abortion” for low-income women. Measure 106 would prohibit the use of state funding for abortions. Gomez does support the measure, saying abortions should not be funded by tax dollars, but also says supports women’s rights to abortion.

Golden said he doesn’t support the mailers, pointing out that he has only sent out one mailer himself and has refused to take PAC money.

Golden said he has told the PACs, and in particular Southern Oregon Priorities, that he doesn’t want their money or their mailers.

“This is the same group that opposed me in the primary because I wouldn’t accept their PAC money,” he said.

One mailer from an unknown group attacks Golden over excerpts cherry-picked from his 1971 journal of his experience on a Georgia farm that was the basis of his book, “Watermelon Summer.”

The mailer picks out quotes from the book that call women “time-wasters” or that “a woman’s socialization would make her more acquiescent and subordinate to orders given to her by men.”

Golden said the quotes were taken out of context and don’t refer to women in general, but were just his observations about those working on the farm.

“I’m criticizing the way they are socialized to be subservient,” Golden said.

Golden said he didn’t want to spend too much time countering the claims made on the mailer because that is what the group putting out the information expects.

“If you want context, read the book,” he said.

Golden said he didn’t think Gomez had any knowledge about the mailer, which listed only an Arlington, Virginia, return address.

“I’m certain Jessica is not behind that ad because she’s too principled and too smart,” Golden said.

Golden also has been attacked in a mailer sent out by the Republican Senate Leadership Fund that depicts him as a clown, saying he's "clowning with us" over the PAC funding issue.

Other mailers supporting Golden, which he didn’t approve of, are mostly “bland, generic” representations of his positions, he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Jessica Gomez and Jeff Golden
Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneCampaign mailers have targeted both Jeff Golden and Jessica Gomez in the Senate District 3 race.