Republican raises big money for Senate in Hillsboro, Forest Grove
Big money has poured into the race for Oregon Senate District 15, which covers a large swath of western Washington County, including Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius.
While the district has a strong Democratic voter registration edge, incumbent Democrat Janeen Sollman has been outraised five times over by her Republican challenger, Carolina Malmedal. The owner of plumbing and luxury toilet rental businesses has raked in over $1 million, largely from Nike Inc. billionaire Phil Knight.
Sollman, a former school board member in Hillsboro, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2016 before being appointed to the Senate seat in January 2022 by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
As of the start of this week, Sollman had raised $194,829. She has spent most of her money on printing and campaign materials from Morel Ink for over $13,000 and consulting from Portland firm Praxis Political for over $14,000. She also spent $30,000 on dues to the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund and has over $115,000 on hand heading into the final weeks of the election.
Sollman, a member of the House Education and the House Behavioral Health committees last year, said her team has knocked on 6,500 doors and drawn over 350 individual donations. She said she can hit 200 in a weekend and 50 on a weekday night and has been reassured by doorway conversations. She said she is focused on affordable housing and protecting reproductive rights.
Still, Sollman acknowledges, she's being outraised and outspent this campaign cycle.
"I don't know what the Republican thought process is. I have been walking and knocking for two months now. I don't have any inclination from the doors that I should have something to be worried about. The conversations are incredibly positive," Sollman said. "I think what's disappointing is where that money is coming from, it's not necessarily coming from neighbors or even Republican neighbors. It's coming from interests outside this district."
Aside $30,000 back from fellow Democratic senators, Sollman's largest contributions have been $5,000 from the Oregon Realtors PAC, $5,000 from Intel Corp., $3,500 from the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association PAC and $3,000 from the Oregon Hospital PAC. She has also received $4,000 from Nike and $2,750 from Amazon.
As of the start of this week, Malmedal had raised just over $1 million.
The Bring Balance to Salem PAC, funded primarily by Knight has given $415,000 to Malmedal's campaign, while the Senate Republican Leadership Fund, which has also received major money from Knight's PAC, has given Malmedal over $410,000.
Malmedal has spent over $161,000 on both PIP Staffing and Services and PIP Communications, largely for television advertisements. Both shops are run by Republican strategist Mark Parrish.
Malmedal said her team has reached over 14,000 doors. She has over $225,000 on hand.
She is focusing her campaign on homelessness, crime and repealing legislation Sollman supported.
"We've been running a media campaign, and we're going to continue to do that," Malmedal said. "If Oregon was working, I wouldn't be running. Janeen was appointed to this senator position. She has been in the House for six years, and we are worse in those six years. We are not better."
In 2020, Democrat Chuck Riley, now retired, won the SD 15 seat with 59% of the vote. The district map has changed slightly since then, dropping North Plains, which will now be in Senate District 16.
The race is the seventh most expensive contest in the state behind governor (over $68 million), Senate District 10 in the Salem area (over $2.6 million), commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries ( over $2.1 million), Senate District 20 in Clackamas County (over $1.8 million), Senate District 11 in Marion County (over $1.75 million), and Position 3 on the Portland City Council (over $1.5 million).
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