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County commission race: Pullen mostly self-funded, Givens goes for write-in redemption

Former commissioner candidate Bailor urges voters to participate
By Phil Wright

Staff Writer

Published on October 9, 2018 6:21PM

Rick Pullen

Rick Pullen

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George Murdock

George Murdock

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Rick Pullen of Pendleton reported raising $3,020 and spending almost $2,800 so far in his campaign to oust incumbent George Murdock as Umatilla County commissioner.

Murdock, also of Pendleton, has reported raising more than $10,000 and spending almost $7,200 to win a second full term as commissioner.

Pullen’s campaign financials became public this week on ORESTAR, the Oregon Secretary of State’s website for campaign finance activity. Pullen’s plethora of black and yellow political signs led some local political insiders to question how he was paying for the campaign.

Mostly out of his own pocket, it turns out. According to the website, Pullen has loaned his campaign $2,100. Close family have given $500 to the campaign, and the rest comes from small cash contributions.

Pullen paid $384 to Creative Signs and $450 to DG Gifts & Screen Printing, both in Pendleton. Bridgeview Press of Cave Junction in Josephine County got the biggest check — $1,537. Pullen also spent $262.50 for signs from a company in Orlando, Florida.

“We have purchased a lot of our stuff local,” Pullen said, and “we’ve gone where we can” to keep expenses down. Pullen also said he has family in Cave Junction and listened to their local recommendation.

Murdock and Pullen are facing off for the Position 1 seat on the county board after neither came away with more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary. Murdock came close, with 45.4 percent, and Pulled pulled in 30.6 percent. Tom Bailor of Pendleton came in third with 23.8 percent. Bailor said he is not endorsing either candidate.

Pullen and Murdock aren’t the only race for Umatilla County commissioner on the ballot — commissioner Larry Givens is not giving up on serving a fourth term.

“I got some folks that are supporting a write-in campaign,” Givens said. “They approached me. This is supporter driven.”

Athena Mayor John Shafer won 52.3 percent of the vote to defeat Givens in the race for position 2 on the Umatilla County Board of Commissioners. Nearly 12,000 voters cast ballots in that race, while the entire turnout for the primary was 13,310, or 31 percent.

Givens, commissioner for 12 years, said Mel Keely, vice chair of the county fair board, came to him a couple of weeks ago with the idea of running a write-in campaign for the Nov. 6 election. A few more people made the same pitch soon after; Givens said he gave his blessing and the campaign is catching on in Hermiston, Pendleton and Milton-Freewater.

“It comes from some folks who just are not happy with Mr. Shafer,” Givens said, but he did not specify what they might be unhappy about.

Although Shafer garnered a majority of voters in the primary, his name appears on the November ballot along with a space for write-ins. Umatilla County elections manager Kim Lindell said that’s because the county charter specifies voters elect commissioners in November.

Shafer said he is surprised Givens is going for a write-in.

“The people spoke in May,” he said. “Now they’re going to get the chance to speak in November.”


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