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Retired farmer to challenge Whitsett
By SARA HOTTMAN Herald and News 1/4/12
Incumbent state Sen. Doug Whitsett will have a challenger in the May Republican primary: Karl Scronce, a retired farmer who has served on agriculture-related boards and who has an opposite stance to Whitsett on the controversial Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement.

On Monday, Scronce filed to run for the Oregon Senate 28th District seat, which covers Klamath, Lake and Crook counties, and parts of Jackson and Deschutes counties.

“I want to be a voice of more reason,” Scronce said. “I want to take a middle-of-the road approach to addressing issues, not be so set in my ways. … Oregon is such a blue state, a Republican won’t have much of an impact if he can’t sit down with other people at the table and discuss different views.”

Scronce said his campaign’s focus will be “job creation, education, representation.”

“I am acutely aware of the important link between education and success of our economy now and into the future,” he said in a press release. “... You deserve a senator engaged at the negotiating table to deliver positive outcomes for this district. I know that I will be that type of senator.”

Whitsett, who ran unopposed in 2008 and won a three-way primary battle in 2004, said he won’t change his campaign approach now that he has an opponent.

“ What we’ve always tried to do is listen to the people and make good decisions,” Whitsett said. “I think we’ll continue to do that.”

After eight years in the Senate, Whitsett said his focus will be fixing the state’s budget situation — “Every quarter seems to be a little bit worse,” he said — and improving double-digit unemployment in the five counties he represents.

“Unemployment rates are simply unacceptable,” he said. “We need to continue to work to get government out of the way of the private sector and let (it) create jobs.”

Local Republican observers have predicted the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement will be the decisive issue this election; Scronce is an adamant supporter, calling it an example of effective compromise, and Whitsett is an equally steadfast opponent, calling it destruction of Klamath River dams.

The KBRA, awaiting implementation legislation from the U.S. Congress, is a billion-dollar settlement that, with its sister agreement, would remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, and seeks to establish sustainable water and power supplies for irrigators, fund habitat restoration, and help the Klamath Tribes acquire the 90,000-acre Mazama Tree Farm. Two months remain until the filing deadline.




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