WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. – You’ve probably seen ads for the two men running for Washington County District Attorney.
It’s one of the most heavily funded races for DA in the country, which is unusual because it’s not a partisan position.
Mailers just arrived at homes in Washington County for Beaverton defense attorney Max Wall. At least five times on these mailers, it states he’s a Democrat.
He has received an astounding $473,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, including $100,000 from a political action committee called Oregon Law & Justice PAC, which is reportedly tied to billionaire George Soros.
Running against Wall is Kevin Barton. He’s a longtime Washington County prosecutor and endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans.
Barton has received $246,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. His biggest contributions are from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who gave $100,000 in cash to Barton's campaign.
The conservative political action committee Action PAC also heavily funded Barton's campaign. Action PAC has funded several conservative candidates in local and state races, including state labor commissioner candidate Lou Ogden.
KGW political analyst Len Bergstein said this amount of fundraising is unheard of for a DA’s race. He said political party affiliations should not be involved when it comes to the criminal justice system and the public’s safety.
As a voter, he said, look past the party and trust your gut.
“If a voter is still undecided, they should take out the voter’s pamphlet and see what people say about how they feel about the job and they’ll see who else is supporting them and that’ll tell you an awful lot about who the right candidate is for you,” Bergstein said.
The position of district attorney can have more of an impact on your everyday life, or your business, than the president or the governor. The position can affect the amount of petty crime in your neighborhood, or how long serious criminals stay behind bars and away from your family.
For 30 years, Norm Frink was the chief deputy district attorney for Multnomah County. In full disclosure, he endorses Kevin Barton. But he wants people to pay attention to this race. He said a DA’s philosophy can really affect everyone.
“The policies have to do with what type of plea negotiations will be acceptable,” Frink said. “So the DA has broad authority and responsibility that actually affects the sentences that are imposed on convicted criminals.”
Oregon’s primary election is on Tuesday, May 15.
Races to Watch: Oregon 2018 Primaries
KGW's Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report.