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Oregon's Battleground House Districts Draw Big Bucks

SALEM, Ore. - Democrats and Republicans have raised more than $12 million combined this year to try to break a deadlock in the Oregon House. Each party holds 30 seats, and the outcome of next month's election will determine who gets to hold the Speaker’s gavel. Most of the big money is pouring into a handful of battleground districts.

A graph that depicts the battleground Oregon House races
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A graph that depicts the battleground Oregon House races

In 2010, six Republicans won seats in the Oregon House that were previously held by Democrats. That pulled the GOP into a 30-30 tie and led to an unprecedented power-sharing deal.

Neither party wants a split House the next time around. And that's led to some big spending in battleground districts. Some of the most money has been spent in those six seats that changed hands last time around.

Pacific University political scientist Jim Moore says those half-dozen freshmen Republicans are ripe pickings for Democrats.

"They're still not really well known in their district. And so you have got to not just worked well in Salem, but you have to have told people at home what you're doing."

Most of the battleground seats are in the Portland suburbs. At least four of those races have seen more than $500,000 in fundraising so far. The other prolific fundraisers are the caucus leaders.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.