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Updated numbers show McMinnville's Bernadette Hansen surging in contest to challenge incumbent Sen. Brian Boquist.

COURTESY PHOTO - Bernadette Hansen

Senate District 12 (McMinnville, Dallas, Jefferson, Monroe, Yamhill, Carlton, Southwest Hillsboro)

This traditionally Republican district drew an unusually robust pool of Democratic candidates this year.

Ross Swartzendruber, who was Democrats' nominee in 2016, led on Election Night. But by noon Wednesday, May 20, with more ballots added to the count — including the Yamhill County vote — Bernadette Hansen pulled into the lead with 34.9% to 32.2% for Swartzendruber.

Lisa Pool is in third with 22% and Arianna Blunt trails behind the pack in fourth with 9.9%.

All four Democrats hope to take on Brian Boquist, a three-term Republican senator from Dallas who is running for re-election. Boquist faces no opposition Tuesday in the Republican primary.

Blunt is a Dundee artist. Hansen, who lives outside McMinnville, is former executive director of the Yamhill Watershed Council. Pool is an acupuncturist and McMinnville resident. Swartzendruber is a sheep farmer from rural Polk County, outside Salem.

COURTESY PHOTO - Ross SwartzendruberBoquist's district runs nearly the entire length of the Willamette Valley, from rural Benton County in the south up to Hillsboro High School at its northernmost end. Republicans outnumber Democrats here by voter registration.

Boquist defeated Swartzendruber by 26 percentage points four years ago, and he enters this year's race as a heavy favorite once again.

However, Boquist has been a lightning rod of controversy in the Legislature, at no time more so than last June, when he made threatening comments on camera against both the Senate president and Oregon state troopers when Senate Republicans were preparing to boycott the Capitol. While supporters rallied to Boquist's defense, the remarks also prompted some calls for his resignation. A legislative committee ordered Boquist to provide advance notice before coming back into the building after several staffers and a Democratic senator said they felt threatened by his behavior.


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