by Dan Lucas
Republicans have their work cut out for them in Oregon’s 2016 races.
After the November 2014 election, Democrats returned to super-majority status in the Oregon Senate – an advantage they’ve enjoyed for 3 of the past 5 election cycles. They hold 18 seats to Republicans’ 12 seats. In the Oregon House, Democrats are within one seat of super-majority status. Democrats hold 35 seats to Republicans’ 25 seats.
In the past 20 years, every Oregon governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state treasurer has been a Democrat.
As of July 2015, Democrats hold a 7.8% statewide voter registration advantage over Republicans – Democrats have 171,175 more voters than Republicans.
The steep up-hill climb for Republicans in Oregon is likely contributing to the low number of Republican candidates so far.
After that bit of cheery news, it’s on to the remaining state-level elections.
State Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) has announced he’s running for State Treasurer. Read has been endorsed by current Treasurer Ted Wheeler – who is up against his term limit – and he’s received $5,000 campaign donations from “from two of the most successful female executives in corporate America,” one from his former boss who was “chief of staff for then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.”
The Bend Bulletin reported that Chris Telfer is “considering running for state treasurer as an Independent.” Telfer is “a Bend certified public accountant, Oregon Lottery commissioner and former [Republican] state senator and Bend city councilor,” who “ran unsuccessfully for treasurer in a special election in 2010 as a Republican.” According to the Bulletin, Telfer registered as an Independent in late July or early August.
UPDATE: 8/28/2015 – Chris Telfer announced her Independent Party bid for State Treasurer
Oregon Attorney General
Oregon’s current Attorney General, Democrat Ellen Rosenblum, has announced she will run for re-election in 2016.
Rosenblum was elected with the help of hundreds of thousands of dollars of marijuana lobby money – “at least a third of the $699,000 Rosenblum raised” in her Democratic primary. Willamette Week, where her husband is the publisher, reported “Rosenblum is the first statewide official in Oregon whose election was fueled by drug money.” Ironically for an attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement official, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. As I wrote back in May, marijuana “remains illegal at the federal level per the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. At the federal level, marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, along with drugs like heroin and LSD. Anyone growing, selling or possessing marijuana is still committing a federal crime punishable by at least up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.” Oregon’s marijuana laws are in conflict with federal laws, to put it mildly.
Rosenblum has drawn criticism for not doing her job. She refused to defend the Oregon constitution (Article XV, Section 5a – the definition of marriage) and she was criticized in the media for “sitting on her hands,” “dragging her heels,” and being “AWOL” for not investigating fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber.
I haven’t heard of any possible opponents yet for Rosenblum.
There are no term limits for Oregon Attorney General.
Oregon Senate (15 of 30 seats)
The following Oregon state senate seats are up for election in 2016:
There are 8 Republican seats and 7 Democratic seats up for election. The more competitive districts were up for election in 2014. In this cycle, SD 5, the seat currently held by Arnie Roblan, is likely the most competitive district.
One area that may be a problem for Roblan is his flip on second amendment rights. Most recently, he voted for anti-gun bill SB 941 – Oregon’s unnecessary, unconstitutional and unenforceable expanded gun background check law. The last time he was elected in 2012, Roblan earned an “A” rating from the NRA and he was endorsed by the NRA. He won’t have either of those for 2016.
Oregon House (all 60 seats)
There will be a handful of highly competitive house races in 2016. One of the most competitive will be HD 20 in Salem, currently held by Democrat Paul Evans. HD 9 in Coos Bay (held by Democrat Caddy McKeown) could also be very competitive.
Other highly competitive house races will likely include Clackamas County seats HD 51 (held by Democrat Shemia Fagan – some precincts are in Multnomah County) and HD 40 (held by Democrat Brent Barton) and Washington County seats HD 30 (held by Democrat Joe Gallegos) and HD 29 (held by Democrat Susan McLain). Brent Barton has already announced he won’t be running in 2016 – which means HD 40 will be an open seat and an even more competitive race.
In the 2014 election, there were six Oregon house races that ended up costing close to $1 million or more: house districts 20, 54, 30, 51, 29 and 40.
Additional resources for following the 2016 Oregon elections:
This article is Part 2 to Sunday’s article: Early look at Oregon’s 2016 elections (Part 2 will be added to Sunday’s article so all the information is in one place.) PLEASE SEE THAT ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOR ALL FUTURE UPDATES.
To read more from Dan, visit www.dan-lucas.com