Democratic state Rep. Peter Buckley is confident enough that he'll be elected to a fifth term that he isn't mailing brochures or putting up lawn signs.
"I'm letting the Voter's Pamphlet make the case for me," Buckley said. "After four terms, people know what I'm going to accomplish."
His opponent, Republican Sandy Abercrombie of Medford, acknowledges she's a long shot.
"He's a popular guy. People seem to elect him," she said. "I don't know why, because he's pretty liberal and this is a conservative community. It must be those Ashland people keep showing up to vote, and we don't."
House District 5 is the only Oregon House seat held by a Democrat south of Eugene. It has a significant Democratic advantage in voter registration and encompasses Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Jacksonville, Ruch and west Medford. Buckley, who lives in Ashland, said he typically carries his hometown, Talent, Phoenix and Jacksonville.
As co-chairman of the Legislature's powerful Ways and Means Committee, Buckley says much of his work will again involve trying to match scarce financial resources to ever-increasing demands for service. He said he will focus on enhancing education, including creation of a trust fund for higher education, improving corrections, with an eye to diverting young offenders from the system, and maintaining funding for a program that assists needy families.
Buckley said the Legislature also likely will take up a proposal to limit the use of genetically modified organisms in farming by requiring a 4-mile buffer around genetically modified crops to protect nearby farmers.
Buckley said he expects Monsanto — the maker of many GMO seeds — and the Farm Bureau to be in the front ranks of the likely "vigorous discussion," which may wind up being referred to voters, he says.
"It's a matter of fairness and the long-established rights of farmers to be allowed to do business without interference," says Buckley. "In this case, it would be the right not to be impacted by contamination."
Abercrombie, 67, agrees with Buckley on the issue, noting, "GMO is a bad idea." This is her second attempt to unseat Buckley. In 2010, Buckley handily defeated her, capturing more than 62 percent of the vote.
Abercrombie, 67, on her website states her beliefs: Christian, equal rights, free enterprise, fiscal responsibility and small government, in that order.
A Navy veteran and computer expert, Abercrombie said in an interview: "I have no lofty goals to save the world. I am running because I'm an American and it's the thing you're supposed to do. We all ought to participate."
Her main goal, if elected, is "to cut trees," she said.
"The forests are not being managed in an intelligent way. I believe they are a crop and should be harvested and replenished."
Her dream, she said, is to be the 31st Republican in the House, breaking the present 30-30 tie and shaping a budget that's in line with the vision of Ways and Means co-Chairman Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point.
"We need to quit spending more than we get," she said.
"We need to cut intelligently, and we should still support the less fortunate. It's the Christian thing to do. As a freshman, I would not go in there with wild ideas and tell them how to fix it."
Abercrombie said she wants less regulation and fewer taxes and fees on business. Public safety should be kept at current levels, but education could be trimmed, she added.
She opposes legalizing marijuana, as it would conflict with federal law, and is against gay marriage, as it's "not a Biblical mandate."
Buckley said he hopes to work with state Treasurer Ted Wheeler to set up a trust fund for higher education, guaranteeing money for the Oregon Opportunity Grants, so it will be a "consistent tool for the shared responsibility model," in which families contribute according to their ability and students work summers to chip in.
He wants to fund diversion for youthful offenders "on the front end," he says, keeping them out of prisons, which would reduce costs.
Funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (formerly welfare), mostly from the state general fund, has been cut so deeply that now 25 percent of Oregon children are in poverty.
"Too many people have fallen off the edge," Buckley said, noting the state risks losing federal matching dollars if it continues to cut.
Buckley said he doesn't expect Abercrombie to run an active campaign. He says he "loves public forums" and is more than willing to debate, but he doesn't yet know of any such events scheduled.
Abercrombie says despite the long odds, it's important that she's in the race.
"I don't think I can win but I'm going to try. ... I'm doing this to show my six grandchildren that, if Grandma can do this, so can they."