House District 23 state Rep. Mike Nearman captured the Republican primary on Tuesday night with an almost 1,135-vote victory against former Dallas councilor Beth Jones.
Nearman had 3,963 votes or 58.4 percent, compared to 2,828 votes and 41.6 percent for Jones, according to returns released by the district’s four counties by 10:45 p.m.
“We’re free to declare victory and that feels good,” Nearman said. “She (Jones) put in a lot of work, and I hope to be able to court her followers. She ran a good campaign and I appreciate it.”
Jones had a slight lead in Polk County, but Nearman won Benton, Yamhill and Marion by fairly wide margins.
Nearman, who challenged and defeated three-term incumbent Rep. Jim Thompson by a 63 percent to 37 percent margin in the 2014 GOP primary, will face off with Thompson again, this time in the general election in November.
Thompson ran unopposed in the Independent Party primary. No Democrat filed papers to run in the district, which includes pieces of Benton, Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties. Key cities in the district are Adair Villages, Alsea, Amity, Dallas, Dayton, Jefferson, Monroe, Rickreall, Willamina and parts of McMinnville.
“I feel good about the prospects for November,” Thompson said. “My campaign is about bringing back a center to the Legislature and working across the aisle to solve problems. We have a lot of problems to solve that require cooperation, not division.”
Nearman noted that although he defeated Thompson soundly in the GOP primary in 2014, the general election voter pool will be different. “I expect he’ll come at me from the left. It will be a very interesting race to watch," Nearman said.
Nearman is an Independence software engineer. Before being elected to the Legislature Nearman was chairman of the Polk County Republican party/ He is on the board of directors of Oregonians for Immigration Reform and served on the Central School District Budget Committee. His community work includes service with the Oregon CASA Network.
Jones, a Dallas resident, is founder and president of Bambinos, a nonprofit ministry serving low-income families in Polk County. Jones served on the Dallas City Council from 2011-14, was a board member on the Polk County Commission for Children and Families and still serves on the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce public policy committee. Her community work includes advocacy for veterans and Oregon Army National Guard families.
Thompson, a consulting medical botanist who lives in Dallas, served on the Monmouth City Council and the Polk County Fire District board and is a citizen representative on a national group working to reduce prescription drug costs.