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David Brock Smith wins primary for Oregon’s Senate District 1

A man with glasses wearing a grey suit, red shirt, blue tie and an American flag enamel pin looks at an out-of-frame person to the right.
David Brock Smith
Campaign website
David Brock Smith as a state representative for district one, which represents parts of Curry, Coos and Douglas counties.

The Republican faced accusations of ties to the Chinese Communist Party in a packed primary.

According to preliminary results, Republican State Senator David Brock Smith has won his primary against three challengers for Oregon’s Senate District 1. That district covers Curry County as well as parts of Coos, Douglas and Jackson counties.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Brock Smith had 56.80% of the vote with 796,114 ballots counted out of 3,011,323 active registered voters.

The race for this state senate seat was notable not only for the number of Republican challengers — Brock Smith hasn’t faced a primary challenge in at least seven years — but because of unproven claims by a political action committee that Smith had political ties to China.

The Republican Unity Caucus, a PAC which backed Brock Smith’s challenger Todd Vaughn, pointed towards Brock Smith’s sponsorship of HB 3375 in 2021, which established the goal of planning for development of offshore wind energy projects, as evidence for his connection with China.

Brock Smith said that legislation allowed the state to better engage with community members about off-shore wind.

The PAC also claimed Brock Smith’s vote for a 2021 wildfire mapping law allowed Chinese citizen Tianqiao Chen to become Oregon’s largest landowner. However, Chen purchased his land in 2015, before the vote on wildfire mapping and prior to Smith holding office.

The Republican Unity Caucus at one time purchased a billboard on Highway 99 that referred to Brock Smith as “made in China.”

“This campaign was the most ridiculous I have seen in my 21 years of public service,” said Brock Smith.

Brock Smith’s attorney sent a cease and desist letter to Ben Edtl, Republican Unity Caucus head and Oregon House candidate, as well as conservative radio host Rob Taylor, because of their allegations against him.

There were no Democratic challengers that ran in the Senate district race.

Justin Higginbottom is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. He's worked in print and radio journalism in Utah as well as abroad with stints in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. He spent a year reporting on the Myanmar civil war and has contributed to NPR, CNBC and Deutsche Welle (Germany’s public media organization).