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Alan Bates Holds Onto His Oregon Senate Seat

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Four years ago, it took a recount to declare Oregon State Senator Alan Bates the winner by fewer than 300 votes.

This time – after a rematch with his Republican opponent Dave Dotterrer – Bates’ margin of victory in the Third Senate District was a more comfortable 52 to 45 percent. 

Given the close call last time, Republican leaders targeted Bates as vulnerable and poured money into the Third District race in an effort to take control of the narrowly-divided Senate from Democrats. The flood of out-of-district cash made it the most expensive Senate race in the state. Much of that money went to fuel a barrage of negative attack ads, mostly against Bates.

On Tuesday night, Bates told JPR he believed that tactic had backfired.

Alan Bates: "Negative campaigning is not acceptable to people in southern Oregon. I hope the next election cycle we see people discussing the issues, and not making personal attacks that are at best half-truths and sometimes flat lies."

With Bates keeping his seat -- and a Democrat ousting a Republican incumbent in the Eighth Senate District in Albany/Corvallis -- Democrats have strengthened their hold on the Oregon Senate, increasing their majority to 17 to 12.

One other race -- in the Hillsboro/Forest Grove District -- is still too close to call.  

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.