Jackson County Commissioner and Republican Don Skundrick has endorsed Democrat Jeff Scroggin for county commissioner over Republican Doug Breidenthal.
"In my opinion, I am recommending a person who would do a better job," Skundrick said.
The decision to endorse Scroggin likely won't sit well with other Republican leaders, Skundrick said. Breidenthal was chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee.
"There may be some political fallout," he said.
Scroggin and Breidenthal are running for the seat held by Commissioner C.W. Smith.
Smith and Commissioner John Rachor, both Republicans, have decided not to endorse Breidenthal.
Instead, they say they will remain neutral on the seat.
Skundrick said Scroggin and Breidenthal have similar positions on economic growth, fiscal responsibility and job creation. Skundrick said he had lengthy conversations with both men in his office, assessing their positions and determining how well they would work for the county.
Ultimately, he said, he determined Scroggin is an independent thinker and problem-solver who would work for all the citizens of the county.
Skundrick said he likes Scroggin's energy and intelligence, saying he would be a better fit on the Board of Commissioners.
Breidenthal said he was somewhat surprised by Skundrick's endorsement of his opponent.
"He's his own man," he said. "If that's where he wants to go, then that's fine."
Breidenthal said he has disagreed with Skundrick on two main issues — land use and taxation and fees.
"Don and I have had lengthy discussions on that," he said. "We haven't seen eye to eye."
Breidenthal said he doesn't think Skundrick bears any lingering feelings against him from the primary when Skundrick and Smith endorsed Breidenthal's opponent, Joel Ockunzzi.
He refrained from criticizing Skundrick's endorsement.
"I'm not going to say anything negative," he said. "We're going to be working together soon."
During the primary campaign Skundrick and Smith both criticized statements Breidenthal made after he attacked the commissioners on their salaries and their stance on land-use issues.
Breidenthal has espoused views that align with the philosophy of the tea party movement, while Skundrick considers himself a moderate Republican.
At the time, all three commissioners criticized Breidenthal for taking credit for issues that were already in the works, such as a coordinated effort to resolve land-use issues in Southern Oregon.
Breidenthal's aggressive positions toward property rights and taking control of federal lands also raised concerns among the commissioners, who said that past efforts by county leaders to forge their own path on land-use issues led to expensive court battles that the county uniformly lost.
Smith said he would normally endorse a candidate after the primary election, but not this time.
"I'm going to stay neutral for the general election," he said.
Rachor also took a middle ground in the election.
"Whoever wins or loses, I will have to work with after the election," he said.
Rachor said Republicans normally support Republicans, but he agrees with Scroggin that the commissioner position should be nonpartisan.
He said that at the county level, partisanship isn't a major factor in the decision-making process.
Scroggin said he has a lot of respect for Skundrick and was surprised at the endorsement.
"It's a really humbling experience, and I'm honored," he said.
Scroggin said he agrees with the sentiment echoed by the commissioners that the county position shouldn't be partisan.
"We need balance and cooperation," he said. "I think the best decisions are made when all sides come together and are solved in a nonpartisan manner."
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.