Longtime Union County businessman doesn't believe money wins races, though

Local state representative candidate Greg Barreto recently got a nice gift - a $30,000 campaign donation from Loren Parks.

Parks, a Nevada businessman who is the largest campaign donor in Oregon history, donated the money to Barreto's campaign in the race to represent House District 58.

Barreto, a Cove resident and head of the Union County-based Barreto Manufacturing, will face John Turner in the Republican primary May 20. Turner is a former presidentof Blue Mountain Community College.

The two are vying for the seat Rep. Bob Jenson will vacate when he retires. Democrat Heidi Van Schoonhoven, a La Grande business owner and Cove resident, has also filed to run for the seat.

Tuesday afternoon Barreto said he was pleased to hear of Parks' donation. Barreto said he hasn't met him but knows that he donates to a lot of conservatives and is active in Oregon politics.

"Apart from that, I don't know much about him," Barreto said. "I'll write him a thank-you note."

According to campaign finance information, Barreto currently has a lead over Turner. Turner has $27,036 in cash contributions with $17,684 cash on hand. Barreto has $53,902 in cash donations, plus $35,000 in campaign loans from himself and his wife, Chris. He has $67,590 in cash on hand.

Despite that lead, Barreto says the votes come from being on the campaign trail.

"I'm just trying to get the votes based on who I am, what I stand for and what I can do," he said. "You have to do some level of advertising, but I think the biggest thing is to get out and meet people."

Already, Barreto has hit the trail - harder than he expected.

"It's been much busier than I anticipated," he said. "I have excellent employees that are taking up the slack. I have a great amount of confidence in them."

Barreto said the campaign is a good test for his employees to show they can keep up in his absence.

The self-proclaimed tea party Republican also says it's not true that he's holding out on Union County to carry votes to victory.

"We're hitting all the counties hard," he said. "I think there's votes to be had (in Umatilla County), too."

Barreto counts all three Union County commissioners as endorsers, along with Union County Sheriff Boyd Rasmussen. Turner has endorsements from Jenson, Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena and David Nelson, former state senator from Pendleton. Oregon Right to Life has endorsed both Turner and Barreto.

Barreto is a tea party member who describes himself as a constitutional traditionalist in favor of limited state government.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.