Tax votes may hurt Republican reps

Reps. Bob Jenson and Greg Smith find their seats in jeopardy after voting to put tax measures on the ballot.

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Reps. Bob Jenson and Greg Smith are hoping to keep their seats after the Republican primary in May, as their votes supporting putting Measures 66 and 67 on the ballot have put them in hot water with the eastern Oregonians they represent.

But Jenson and Smith stand by their decisions, saying they knew their careers could be endangered by their votes.

Now Jenson and Smith are fighting to keep their seats beyond Oregon’s May 18 Republican primary. Jenson is challenged by Mathisen, a prison food service manager. Smith is defending his seat against Colleen MacLeod, a former Union County commissioner. The two incumbents say they knew their votes on the business and personal income tax increases could jeopardize their political careers. But both maintain that they couldn’t, in good conscience, allow the cuts that could have occurred to schools and social services.

This spring, Oregonians who may have never been to these rural districts have taken a keen interest in whether Jenson and Smith keep their seats. Conservative and anti-tax groups, tea party members and even the Republican Party chairman say defeating the two incumbents will send a message to all of Oregon about taxes, trust and anger.

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