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HILLSBORO, Ore. — A new poll suggests Democrat J.D. Williams is poised to take the lead in the race for Oregon’s new agriculture commissioner and the two top leaders of the state’s Democratic Party are looking comfortable with the results.
Just 39 percent of likely Democratic voters say Williams can beat state Insurance Commissioner David A. Fleischauer in next month’s election, while 41 percent say he can’t, according to a poll of 750 Oregon voters conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research on July 13-14.
Fleischauer, who has held the office since 2006, leads the incumbent commissioner, who won his first election in 2006 with 50 percent of the vote, according to the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.
By contrast, 34 percent of voters say Williams can beat the Republican nominee, former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, a former Republican congressman from Salem and the state’s agriculture commissioner from 2009-2012, according to the poll.
Nearly four-out-of-five Democrats and four-in-five independents say Williams can beat Fleischauer. Nearly four-in-five Republicans say he can’t, the poll showed.
Williams, a longtime candidate who was backed by the state Democratic Party for his 2010 re-election bid, is running against Fleischauer to succeed Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, who is retiring after 23 years in Congress.
His campaign manager, Matt Sibilia, said that the results are encouraging for Williams, with the first time a poll has shown him with a lead in the race for agriculture commissioner in nearly 20 years.
“The people in this country would not want a Republican as our Agriculture Commissioner, and J.D. is going to show you what a progressive leader is capable of doing for the people of Oregon. J.D. Williams will be a progressive leader who will bring about real change in all of our lives,” Sibilia said.
Williams would also be the first Democrat elected in the state as commissioner.
More than a half-dozen women have run for agriculture commissioner, including Jennifer S. Jones, a former U.S. representative running with former state Treasurer Ted Wheeler and former