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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Filing Day Marks Unofficial Kick-Off To Oregon Campaign Season

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
A state elections worker puts another name up on the board in the Oregon House showing candidates who have filed to run in the May 2014 primary.

Oregon candidates are off to the races. The campaign season unofficially got underway Tuesday with the deadline to file to run in the May primary.

The marquee primary match-up is among Republicans vying for the chance to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. The top GOP contenders are Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby and central Oregon state representative Jason Conger.

The two are already waging an intense campaign over which candidate is better suited to take on the well-financed incumbent.

In the Oregon legislature, Democrats want to extend their advantage in both chambers. But Republicans like Deputy House GOP leader John Davis say they're poised to pick up more seats of their own.

"We've got some fantastic candidates," he says. "I feel like they're really engaged in the community. They're trained well. They're ready to run hard and it's going to be a great campaign season."

In the governor's race, Republican state representative Dennis Richardson has the inside track to win the May GOP primary. He wants to take on Democratic incumbent John Kitzhaber in the fall.