"Former McMinnville Police Chief Ron Noble was one of seven Republican legislative candidates receiving large donations from Nike co-founder Phil Knight at the end of September.
The donations totaled $380,000. Noble received $50,000.
So far, Noble has raised $213,717, not including the $50,000 from Knight, according to state filing records. They show his opponent, Democrat Ken Moore, has raised $163,156.40. Noble told the News-Register that between the two of them, he expects spending for the race could reach half a million dollars, as both candidates’ parties have focused on District 24 as an important seat.
The News-Register editorial board met with Noble Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with Moore next week.
The candidates will participate in two more debates, one hosted by the McMinnville City Club on Tuesday, Oct. 11, and another during the McMinnville Kiwanis Club meeting Thursday, Oct. 20. Both will be in the Grand Ballroom.
Moore’s largest financial backer thus far has been the the Oregon House Democrats’ Future PAC, which has given the handyman and local TV show host just over $40,000 in several installments in the last month. He also received $25,000 from Oregon AFSCME Council 75, a statewide employee union.
Knight has financially supported both Republican and Democratic candidates in the past. This year, he limited his giving to Republicans in key races — ones insiders predict could go either way.
Noble counts Knight as a constituent, but said he did not solicit the contribution.
He told the News-Register his campaign staff fielded a call asking about his background, positions, strategy and financing. “The next thing I knew, the check was in the mail,” he said.
Noble said Knight appeared to be spreading money among candidates in key races, not trying to curry any particular influence in District 24, where he is locked in a tight race with Moore. While the money is welcome, he said, he remains committed to personal integrity above all else.
Knight contributed $80,000 to Rep. Mark Johnson of Hood River; $50,000 to Senate candidate Alan DeBoer of Ashland; $50 each to Noble and fellow House candidates Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Happy Valley, Dan Mason of Hillsboro and Patti Milne of Woodburn; and $25,000 each to Rep. Julie Parrish of West Linn and House candidate Rich Vial of Wilsonville.
Neither Knight nor Nike have so far commented on the donations. Republicans have called Knight a longtime friend of the state.
Although his career has been in law enforcement, and he is currently heading campus security at Linfield College, Noble is not stressing public safety above other issues in his campaign. A moderate, he said one of his key goals is restoring bi-partisanship in the Legislature."