By editorial board • 

Thompson, Boquist deserve nod in House 23 and Senate 12 races

Jim Thompson and Brian Boquist, two moderate, independent-minded legislative veterans from Dallas, stand head and shoulders above the opposition in their legislative districts.

In Thompson’s case, that’s House 23, encompassing large, mostly rural swaths of Benton, Polk and Yamhill counties, along with a sliver of rural Marion. The district skirts the edges of populous Corvallis, West Salem and McMinnville, but includes the communities of Dallas, Amity, Dayton and Willamina, among others.

In Boquist’s case, that’s Senate District 12, which consists of House Districts 23 and 24, the latter lying on the north. The House 24 portion excludes Newberg and Dundee, but includes Yamhill County’s rural mid-section, along with the city of McMinnville and a segment of southern Washington County.

Thompson served briefly as a House 23 appointee in 2004. He lost to Boquist in that year’s May primary, but the two became fast friends and close allies.

That helped Thompson gain the seat when Boquist moved to the Senate in 2008 and held on to it for six years. Their ties proved durable enough, in fact, to survive Thompson’s conversion to the Independent Party of Oregon, following his loss to Tea Party challenger Mike Nearman two years ago in the GOP primary.

Thompson is seeking to turn the tables on Nearman in this year’s general election, becoming the Legislature’s lone registered Independent. The Republican-dominated district has drawn two other lightly regarded candidates, Garrett Leeds of the Libertarian Party and Alex Polikoff of the Pacific Green Party, but no Democrat.

Boquist faces a lone challenger, little-known Democrat Ross Swartzendruber, in a district also leaning decidedly Republican.

In Salem, Thompson quickly concluded he needed to work with the majority Democrats to accomplish anything, and proved adept at it, earning broad Democratic respect. However, that ultimately proved his undoing, fostering a primary challenge funded largely by the Oregon Family Council and Right to Life on social issues.

Nearman sees his mission simply as fighting “big government’s attempt to limit our gun rights, tax our citizens and give away taxpayer-funded services to illegal aliens.” Thompson’s vision is much broader and more forward-looking.

Swartzendruber, descendant of the Whiteson Amish, is a Polk County sheep rancher. Opposition to standardized school testing provoked him to challenge Boquist.

He seems well-intentioned. But, in facing one of the Legislature’s most accomplished inside players, a man boasting an almost legendary mastery of policy intricacies, he seems badly outmatched.