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As It Was: Democrat Wins 1916 Election in Conservative Josephine County

A candidate for the Oregon House of Representative in 1916, Dr. Charles T. Sweeney, spent only $36 on his campaign.

His opponent, A.E. Voorhies, didn’t list any expenditures, but he had the advantage of owning his own newspaper, the Rogue River Courier in Grants Pass. He campaigned not as a politician, but as a Republican businessman suffering from the burden of over-taxation. He promised if elected to focus on reducing state expenses.

Democrat Sweeney, a popular physician and farmer, had a large fruit and dairy ranch in the Applegate Valley. His platform was economy, progress, and efficient war legislation.

The Oregon Daily Journal said Sweeney’s win over Voorhies by 721 votes took conservative Josephine County by surprise.

Two years later, Sweeney decided that if he could beat a Republican who owned his own newspaper, he might have a chance for a seat in the Oregon Senate. He lost, however, to J.C. Smith, also a physician.

In 1925, Sweeney built a brick-faced French Renaissance farmhouse near Medford, Ore., listed today on the National Register of Historic Places in Jackson County.

Source: "Democratic Aspirant For State Senate Is Here From Medford." The Oregon Daily Journal, 30 June 1918 [Portland OR] , p. 7. Historical Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn85042444/1918-06-30/ed-1/seq-7/#words=Charles+Sweeney+T. Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.