A former Democratic candidate for state House District 32 has endorsed Republican Vineeta Lower for the seat in the November election.
Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi announced the endorsement Wednesday. He, along with Gearhart lawyer John Orr, lost the May primary to Tiffiny Mitchell, a case management coordinator with the state Department of Human Services.
“From Astoria to Banks on down to Tillamook, the voters in House District 32 have always been willing to look beyond party labels to support candidates who will do the most good for our communities,” Josi said in a statement. “Vineeta’s experience as a teacher, her background in the transportation sector and her commitment to putting the priorities of neighbors ahead of partisan politics makes her the most qualified candidate in this race.”
Lower said she is “extremely humbled” by the endorsement. “Our state is facing some tremendous challenges. If we are going to solve them, we have to work together with members of both parties and identify the solutions that will best benefit Oregonians,” she said in a statement.
Lower and Mitchell are vying for the seat held by Rep. Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach, who was first elected to the House in 2004. Boone and state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, endorsed Josi — a former state representative — in the primary.
Josi, who made increasing timber harvests one of his central campaign issues, raised more than the other two Democrats. A large chunk of his war chest came from timber interests.
Earlier this month, Hampton Lumber made a $2,500 contribution to Lower’s campaign. To date, Mitchell has raised more than $155,000, while Lower has raised more than $25,000.
David McCall, chairman of the Tillamook County Democrats, said he had not heard anything ahead of Josi’s endorsement. The organization has endorsed Mitchell.
“Well, I guessed he would endorse Mitchell or not endorse anybody,” McCall said. “This comes as a surprise to me.”
McCall said he is not concerned about the impact Josi’s endorsement may have on the race. “Tim’s one individual. It’s his opinion. Those who backed him may have backed Lower in any case,” he said.