Oregon Republicans choose stability; seek to build on success

By Reagan Knopp

It was a cloudy Saturday morning as I entered the unassuming Red Lion Hotel just off Interstate-5 in Salem. This was the location of the Oregon Republican Party’s (ORP) Biennial Organizational Meeting. Every two years, party activists chosen by local county Republican parties from across the state meet to choose their statewide leadership.

On Friday, I attended a small reception in honor of the first Republican to win statewide office in Oregon in 14 years, Dennis Richardson. He made it clear that he was focused on ensuring every Oregonian served by the Secretary of State’s various departments would be treated in a fair, friendly, nonpartisan, and transparent manner. Attendees applauded his goals and asked how they could help. He urged everyone to keep themselves and their communities informed about government.

Friday night’s event gave important perspective to the proceedings on Saturday. Oregon Republicans are excited about Richardson’s victory and many were hungry for more. While a small contingent felt party leadership was ineffective, it was the clear and overwhelming feeling by most in the room that current leadership had finally put the state party on a path to growth and relevancy. While everyone understood that many barriers still exist in deep blue Oregon, they supported the current leadership and mostly backed their slate in order to continue this forward momentum.

In the first election of the day, Bill Currier was chosen as the first ORP Chair to be elected for multiple terms since Vance Day served from 2005-2009. Currier was chosen over two challengers, Joseph Rice, and Mark Callahan (Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016). Here are the results of that election:

  • Bill Currier (76 Votes) – Winner
  • Joseph Rice (31 votes)
  • Mark Callahan (3 votes)
  • Write-in (2 votes)

Previous ORP Secretary Chris Barreto ran as Vice-Chair after previous Vice-Chair Tyler Smith announced he did not intend to run again. Barreto was challenged by Sandra Abercrombie, Tim Harris, and Diann Morrison-Wilson. Here are the results:

  • Chris Barreto (84 votes) – Winner
  • Sandra Abercrombie (4 votes)
  • Tim Harris (2 votes)
  • Diann Morrison-Wilson (23 votes)

Running to succeed ORP Secretary Barreto were two new faces to Oregon Republican Party leadership. Anne Marie Gurney is the Oregon Director of the Freedom Foundation and Cheryl Morrison is President of Capitol City Republican Women and is a delegate with Marion County Republicans. Here are the results:

  • Anne Marie Gurney (67 votes) – Winner
  • Cheryl Morrison (42 votes)

Current ORP Treasurer Jeff Grossman was chosen last August to fill the spot of outgoing treasurer Ken Taylor. He was challenged by John Lee and Diann Morrison-Wilson. Here are the results:

  • Jeff Grossman (30 votes)
  • John Lee (55 votes) – Winner
  • Diann Morrison-Wilson (17 votes)

In summary, the 2015-2016 leadership team turned around the Oregon Republican Party and has put it on a path toward success. The 2017-2018 leadership team is even stronger and appears ready to do the hard work necessary in order to build on last year’s victories.