- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Sixteen members of the Oregon Legislature aren’t seeking re-election. Two will face primary challengers. And 24 won’t have any opponent at all in the primary or general election.

The 2014 election took much clearer shape Tuesday as the deadline passed for people seeking office to declare their intentions.

Fifteen representatives and one senator did not file re-election paperwork. Most of them had already said they’re retiring or seeking another office, but one was a surprise. Freshman Rep. Ben Unger, D-Hillsboro, said it was too difficult to balance legislative work with his full-time job as a political consultant.

“I always knew working and serving would be a difficult,” Unger said in a statement. “It turned out to be harder than I originally imagined.”

Nineteen members of the House - 14 of them Democrats - will be running unopposed unless someone mounts a write-in campaign for their party’s nomination. On the Senate side, four Democrats and one Republican did not draw an opponent from either party. Most of the unopposed incumbents represent safe districts that would be unlikely to switch parties.

“I’m pleased, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have work to do to communicate with my constituents,” said Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, who is running unopposed. “I like to think it’s because I’ve represented my constituents well.”

Two House Democrats are facing challengers from their own party in the May 20 primary. Joe Rowe is challenging Speaker Tina Kotek of Portland over her dogged support for the Columbia River Crossing project, which would replace the Interstate 5 bridge linking Oregon and Washington and extend Portland’s light-rail system into Vancouver, Wash.

Tom Sincic filed papers to run against Rep. Barbara Smith Warner of Portland. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners selected Smith Warner over Sincic and another nominee in December to fill a vacant seat in the House.

One of the most contentious primaries will be in a mid-Willamette Valley House district now represented by Rep. Kim Thatcher of Keizer, who is running for the state Senate. Fireworks have started already between conservative talk-radio host Bill Post and business owner Barbara Jensen.

Post announced abruptly Monday that he’s suspending his radio show to comply with Federal Communication Commission rules and election laws. Jensen alleges that Post’s show violated FCC rules requiring equal time for candidates

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and all five of Oregon’s representatives in the U.S. House are seeking re-election. Merkley faces two longshot Democrats and five Republicans.

Conservative Dennis Linthicum is challenging Oregon’s only Republican in Congress, Rep. Greg Walden, from the right. Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader also faces a primary challenge from Anita Brown.

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber will face a longshot primary challenger, Ifeanyichukwu Diru of Salem. Six Republicans are vying for the gubernatorial nomination, led by state Rep. Dennis Richardson of Central Point.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian will be unopposed in his re-election bid. The office is nonpartisan, but Avakian is a Democrat.

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