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election-hd23-23

Election night was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Beth Jones.

The former Dallas councilor was making her first run for a state office, challenging first-term incumbent Mike Nearman in the Republican primary in House District 23.

When the Polk County results came in, showing Jones with a narrow lead, she was besieged with congratulatory calls and messages from supporters.

“They thought I had won. I had to put out a Facebook message. That made it even harder,” Jones said.

What her Polk County friends failed to recognize is that the oddly configured district includes three other counties, Benton, Yamhill and Marion. Nearman handily won the other three counties on his way to a 58-42 percentage victory.

The final official totals in the information box reflect the more than 2,100 votes that were counted after last week's Election Day, but they didn’t significantly alter the percentages the Gazette-Times reported May 18.

Although pleased that she was able to outpoll Nearman on the home turf they share in Polk, Jones said she was hurt in the other three counties because Oregon Right to Life endorsed Nearman.

“They have a lot of power in Republican races,” said Jones, who has strong pro-life credentials. Jones said she fared better in Polk because voters there “know me and know what I’m doing. I knew it was going to be a struggle in the other three counties when my name was not on the right-to-life list.”

Jones said she will not actively campaign for either Nearman or Independent Party candidate Jim Thompson in the fall. Nearman defeated Thompson, a three-term incumbent, in the 2014 GOP primary.

“There are pros and cons to both Mike Nearman and Jim Thompson,” Jones said. “I’m very concerned about losing a Republican seat in the House,” where Democrats hold a 35-25 edge.

Jones also noted that Thompson likely will campaign from the center-left and “you need a balance to get things done. I plan to sit back and see what happens.”

But she plans to stay active in politics.

“Absolutely,” she said. “This is what I am passionate about.”

Her sense of direction was confirmed the day after the election when she and her husband, Ray, went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. Her fortune cookie read: "Your future contributions in the field of politics will make a difference."

“I’m definitely going to take that advice,” Jones said.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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