Major Changes in the Oregon Legislature



Several familiar faces in the Oregon Legislature have announced career shifts in recent months. The turnover at this stage midway through a term is unprecedented. It will significantly impact the 2018 legislative session and subsequent elections.

Here is what we know.

House of Representatives:
Representative Ann Lininger (D-Lake Oswego) resigned in August to pursue a Clackamas County Circuit Court judgeship. The Multnomah County board of commissioners and Clackamas County board of commissioners chose Andrea Salinas, a labor union and environmental lobbyist, to fill the vacated seat.

Representative Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) resigned to accept the position of CEO at Oregon Business & Industry. Mark’s departure will be strongly felt by those of us who relish working with the “sensible middle” of legislators who combine
pro-business attitudes with an even temperament. His departure presents a pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2018 as this district slightly leans democratic.

Representative John Huffman (R-The Dalles) resigned from his House seat on the 28th of October. We anticipated this development, since John has been seeking an appointment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His successor is being considered now. We anticipate Mike Shirtcliff (R), founder of Advantage Dental, will be a leading candidate here in this conservative-leaning district.

Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) is rumored to be a leading candidate to fill the vacant Senate seat left by Ted Ferrioli. Rep. Bentz is highly regarded in the Capitol building. OSCC will be happy to continue working with Rep. Bentz should he transition to the Oregon Senate. This is a solidly Republican seat in eastern Oregon.

Other legislators we know won’t be returning include Sal Esquivel (R-Medford) and Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver).

State Senate:
Senator Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) will be leaving the Senate now that he has been appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. As both the Senate Republican Leader and one of the most tenured members of the Legislature, Senator Ferrioli’s departure presents one of the two biggest impacts of the 2017 legislative shuffle. While Rep. Bentz is expected to fill Ferrioli’s Senate seat, questions as to who may replace Ferrioli as the Republican Leader remain. Senate Republicans will hold an election this week for the leadership post.

Senator Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) was also nominated by Governor Brown for a position on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Senator Devlin is the legislature’s chief budget architect and is considered one of the smartest and most experienced legislators in Oregon.  His departure will create the biggest void in the legislature as he leaves his post of Senate Co-Chair of the Ways & Means Committee.

As of today, we understand that Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) are leading contenders to fill this post.

Devlin’s seat has attracted considerable interest from potential replacements including former legislator Greg MacPherson, who is clearly the best candidate. What is not known, however, is how far the public employee unions will go to block MacPherson’s appointment.

Senator Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg). We continue to field question about Senator Kruse’s future in the legislature. What we know at this point is that he has been removed from all Senate committees following allegations of inappropriate conduct from his colleagues. And to date, he has indicated that he will not be resigning. Senator Kruse is a very influential voice in health care politics and would leave a void in that area. Kruse’s district is a safe Republican district that would yield another Republican senator pending any changes here.

OSCC will continue to monitor legislative appointments and welcome incoming legislators to the Capitol. Stay tuned for further updates.


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