EAGLE POINT, OR -- A last-minute move in March by State Senator Doug Whitsett has led to an unusual write-in campaign to decide his successor. District 28 includes Crook County and part of Deschutes County.
Whitsett initially filed for reelection, but then announced he would retire at the end of his current term. Republican Dennis Linthicum
filed minutes before the deadline. Write-in candidate and Eagle Point resident C.W. Smith
says many voters aren’t happy with what they see as back-room political maneuvering. "Voters were denied the opportunity to have some choice. Rather than have a candidate hand-picked for them by the outgoing Senator, this write-in campaign gives voters some degree of choice of an alternative view, or a different ideology that I think is more compatible with the rural citizens who are, I think, for the most part, conservative." He says his top priorities are jobs, balancing natural resources policy and creating more transparency in decisions made for wilderness areas.
Smith knows he faces an uphill battle. But, with the help of his political action committee, he thinks he’s got a chance. "The committee has been certified; that has made, to a degree, my candidacy legitimate. I’m not on the ballot, and I didn’t file in a timely manner to get a voters pamphlet statement. So, I need to make up for that. I’m doing a lot of traveling, I’m using a lot of radio and I’m using social media, extensively."
The retired Jackson County Sheriff and former County Commissioner tells KBND News he's run eleven other successful campaigns. However, "This is probably one of the most interesting and challenging races I’ve ever run." Smith is a registered Republican; but says it's conceivable, as a write-in candidate, he could earn the nomination for either the Independent or Democratic parties, or both.
Two others have also launched write-in campaigns, including Todd Kepple
of Klamath Falls.