December 14th, 2009 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Legislature

Trial Lawyers Lend Oregon Senate Candidate Barton $50K

Brent Barton

Democrats are trying to make sure that what is expected to be a marquee legislative race in 2010 is no race at all.

When Senate District 26 incumbent Rick Metsger (D-Welches) announced he would not seek re-election earlier this year, Republicans looked at the seat (which represents Hood River and parts of Clackamas and Multnomah Counties) as a potential pick-up. (As of October, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the district by 28,093 to 24,336, a relatively narrow 3,750-vote gap in Oregon's polarized legislative districts.)

But Rep. Brent Barton (D-Clackamas) who represents half of the Senate district, jumped into the race as soon as Metsger announced his departure. And heis trying hard to make a victory look inevitable. In September, Barton's campaign announced a $50,000 loan from his father, Bill, a successful trial lawyer. And on Friday, Barton disclosed another $50,000 loan, this one from the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association PAC.

That leaves Barton with $153,000 on hand—which is a pretty good war chest, considering Oregon Senate candidates rarely raise more than $500,000. Meanwhile, the GOP is still searching for a candidate to oppose Barton in its effort to cut into the Dems' 18-12 advantage in the Senate.

Barton, 29, a corporate lawyer at the Perkins Coie firm, says he is proud to have attracted strong trial lawyer support. "Access to justice is of primary importance to me," he says.

He says voters should not be concerned that so much of his funding thus far comes from a single interest group. "Contributions have never affected my vote," Barton says.
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