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Sparacino far ahead in GOP state senate bid

Medford’s mayor leads in race to challenge Oregon Sen. Jeff Golden this fall

GOP voters have picked Medford’s mayor as the Republican challenger to face incumbent state senator Jeff Golden in the general election this fall.

Randy Sparacino, Medford’s current mayor and retired police chief who served 29 years with Medford Police Department, was more than 50 points ahead of Talent artist and former aerospace engineer Kevin Christman in the race to be Republican voters’ nominee for Oregon’s District 3 state senate race, preliminary primary election results showed Tuesday evening.

Sparacino had received 75.12% of the 7,847 votes from registered Republicans tabulated in the race as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, according to early Jackson County Elections data, with preliminary results showing that Kevin Christman had received 1,911 votes — 24.35% of the vote — and 41 votes going to write-in candidates.

The results are preliminary. A complete count and certified election results are weeks away because the state now accepts mailed ballots up to seven days after polls close, provided they have a postmark of May 17 or earlier.

When reached by phone, Sparacino acknowledged that the results are preliminary, but felt pretty confident that he’d stay in the lead. He applauded his opponent, Christman, for “running a solid race.”

“I’m feeling honored that the voters of Southern Oregon had confidence to vote the way they have thus far,” Sparacino said.

He described the safety of Oregon and the Rogue Valley is at the forefront of his campaign.

“I’m going to strive to serve and protect the citizens of Southern Oregon and I promise to do that,” Sparacino said.

Support for law enforcement and taking action against the rise in internationally based illicit marijuana grows operating in Southern Oregon are among Sparacino’s priorities in the state legislature.

Sparacino believes his 29 years of law enforcement experience — he retired from Medford police in the summer of 2019 — give him a unique advantage in the state legislature.

“Right now the Republican Caucus doesn’t have a law enforcement perspective,” Sparacino said.

Sparacino described the state’s most pressing issue as being the significant headwinds caused by inflation.

“It’s going to be time to relieve the impact of inflation on the citizens of Oregon,” Sparacino said.

Sparacino will face Democrat incumbent Jeff Golden if he wins the general election on Nov. 8.

When reached by phone, Golden said it was too soon to say how his policies and approach to the legislature differed from Sparacino’s. He knows that Sparacino supported a bill about forestry and wildfire that didn’t make it through the Legislature, but beyond that he’s waiting to address specifics on the campaign trail.

“We’ve got some really big issues and a lot of Oregonians hurting,” Golden said. “That’s what the next few months will be about.”

Golden otherwise spoke highly of Sparacino, and said he’s “optimistic” that there’s potential the two of them have the potential to have a "really good" campaign at a time when there’s “a lot of really low-quality election races these days.”

“What little I know of him, he seems to be a really nice guy who cares about the community — not a mud wrestler,” Golden said. “I think we’ve got a really good shot of giving voters a good campaign and a good choice.”

"I want to congratulate the mayor and welcome him to the race,“ Golden said.

Sparacino and Golden’s race is far from the only Southern Oregon race for state legislature this fall, but the opposition in the Republican race made it a contested race in the primary election.

In the state house of representatives, incumbent Democrat Oregon Rep. Pam Marsh of Ashland and Republican challenger Sandra A. Abercrombie each ran unopposed in the closed primary election. They’ll face off in the fall for the fifth district state representative race. Incumbent Republican Kim Wallan of Medford will face Democrat challenger Dan Davis in the sixth district state representative race in the fall election.

Greater Idaho failing in 2 of 3 counties

Of the three Southern Oregon counties voting on ballot measures for a long-shot change to state borders that would make them part of the state of Idaho, only one appeared to be passing.

Klamath County’s Measure 18-121, which would create a board to study potential state border relocation benefits for Klamath County citizens, appeared to be passing as of Tuesday evening with a 9% margin, with 54.57% of 11,744 voters approving the measure and 45.43% opposed.

If it succeeds, the measure would require the Chief Deputy Clerk of Klamath County appoint three members to a Border Relocation Board that would meet three times in one year study, evaluate and report on potential benefits for any border relocations between U.S. states, “specifically Oregon and Idaho,” according to the ballot measure’s summary. The board would serve one year without compensation.

Eight other Oregon counties — Baker, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, Malheur, Sherman and Union — have passed similar measures voting in favor of joining the state of Idaho in what’s commonly referred to as the Greater Idaho movement.

Idaho State border related measures in Josephine and Douglas counties, however, were failing as of Tuesday night.

Josephine County’s Measure 17-106, asking voters “should Josephine County, along with other rural counties, separate from Oregon and become part of Idaho?” appeared to be failing by a margin of more than 10%, according to preliminary election results Tuesday evening, with 55.25% of 17,505 voters voting no and 44.75% voting yes.

Douglas County’s Measure 10-185, asking voters, “Shall county resources be used to incorporate Douglas County within Idaho State’s border and thereafter be subject to Idaho’s laws,” appeared to be failing as of early Tuesday evening by a nearly 15 point margin with 57.16% of 15,200 votes against and 42.84 in favor.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.