Gains Are Anticipated For Republicans: In the Oregon Legislature, Democrats have spent a significant portion of the past ten years running up the score against Republicans. The GOP is attempting to regain lost territory this year with a plethora of resources and favorable political conditions.
Republican gains in the House and Senate look set to eliminate the three-fifths supermajorities that allow Democrats to enact legislation on a party-line basis, including increased taxes. Some GOP operatives are salivating at the remote potential that their party could take control of a legislative house for the first time since 2006 due to persistent inflation, increased violent crime, homelessness, and an unpopular Democratic governor.
A tight race for governor doesn’t hurt. In many recent surveys, Republican Christine Drazan is statistically tied with Democrat Tina Kotek.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, who is in charge of his party’s strategy in Senate elections, claimed that it is encouraging Republican turnout. “Anyone who votes for Drazan is also supporting our candidates.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are defending their positions. The party is hoping that the Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court would inspire its supporters. But even it is unlikely to help the party nationally overcome its issue. Democrats currently control the presidency and both chambers of Congress, which is exceptional for midterm elections.
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Defining Democratic tactics in his chamber, Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner, a Democrat from Lake Oswego, said, “The pendulum swings; we’re all aware of that.” “People are working especially harder since it’s a headwind year.”
Money is another factor working against Democrats. Former Oregon U.S. Rep. Greg Walden is helping Republicans this year because he is a strong fundraiser. The Bring Balance to Salem PAC, a political action organization connected to Walden, has raised more than $4 million to support the election of Republicans to the state Legislature. Included in that is $2 million from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has shown an extraordinary level of interest in restoring Republican control of the state this year.
The former congressman Walden, in Knopp’s opinion, has played a significant role in bringing the House and Senate Republicans together. He has aided in building momentum and contacts.
The Senate of Oregon
In the Senate, where Democrats have an 18-11-1 advantage, the stakes are particularly high. (Sen. Brian Boquist, a former Republican, joined the Independent Party of Oregon last year after leaving the party.) Republicans must take three seats from Democrats in order to end their dominance. If the GOP outperforms expectations in two safe Democratic districts where it is investing extensively, it may be able to take back the chamber with the aid of Boquist.
Election Night races to watch include:
Ashland/Medford, Senate District 3
Sen. Jeff Golden, a Democrat from Ashland, is attempting to defeat a challenge from Randy Sparacino, the former police chief and mayor of Medford.
However, despite the fact that both candidates are widely known in the district, Golden leads in the measures. The district was won by President Joe Biden by about 15 percentage points, and Democrats had a lead in voter registration of almost 8%. Republicans have invested a lot of money in the contest, so that is not enough to stop them. Over $1 million has been raised by Sparacino. Golden has raised a little over $200,000 and is a proponent of campaign finance reform who rejects massive PAC contributions. Democrats have also supported Golden by making “independent expenditures” totaling more than $60,000 that are unrelated to his campaign.
The majority leader in the Senate, Wagner, claims that the Republican effort will fail.
On election night, Wagner predicted that Jeff Golden would win the contest around 8:15 p.m., hinting that the outcome would be obvious immediately following the ballot deadline.
Salem/Monmouth, District 10 of the Senate
This district includes parts of the city and its southwest suburbs, making it one of many contests in Salem this year that is being keenly followed. The most expensive competition on the parliamentary calendar is also held there.
In the race to complete the term of late Republican state Sen. Jackie Winters, state senator Deb Patterson won the district for Democrats. State Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, a capable fundraiser, is Patterson’s current opponent. She has raised more than $1.7 million compared to Patterson’s close to $1 million. Demographically, Democrats have an advantage in the district that Biden won by more than 16%, but the election is predicted to be close.
Salem/Keizer/Woodburn, Senate District 11
The Democratic state senator with the longest tenure in state history, Peter Courtney, is up for re-election in the other significant Salem Senate race.
When Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson, the initial Democratic nominee, abruptly withdrew, the contest had an early upheaval. Currently, the race is between state senator Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, a Republican whose residence was included in the district after last year’s redistricting process, and attorney and former Keizer city councilman Rich Walsh, a Democrat.
With Thatcher raising more than $1 million, significantly more than Walsh, the contest is yet another expensive one. Democrats have a tiny advantage, but it might not be enough in a year where Republicans are in the driver’s seat.
According to GOP strategist Bryan Iverson, who is assisting with the management of Republican Senate contests this year, “We feel solid with Thatcher winning there.”
Senate District 20: Happy Valley and Oregon City
Democrats believe they have a unique chance to flip a seat in this Portland suburb during a year that will largely be spent on the defensive. Through redistricting, the boundaries of Senate District 20 were drastically altered, drawing in more of Happy Valley and excluding significant portions of the surrounding rural villages. Democrats benefit from the revised boundaries. With a 10% registration edge, the party won the district with a margin of victory of approximately 15 percentage points for Biden.
However, Oregon City senator Bill Kennemer, the incumbent, refuses to give up. He is engaged in a heated debate with state Rep. Mark Meek, a Democrat from Oregon City. Both candidates have raised significant funds and are using tactics that are typical of legislative campaigns to attack the other’s record. Democrat is weak on crime, according to Kennemer (who has received criticism from several crime victims for his advertising), and Republican, according to Meek, is an extreme opponent of abortion.
In conclusion, Republicans have a decent chance of taking over a coastal Democratic seat that was formerly held by former state senator Betsy Johnson. Republicans can gain a majority in the Senate if they win all four of the aforementioned contests (assuming Boquist, the Independent and former Republican, goes along with the GOP agenda when lawmakers return to Salem next year). Republicans stand a decent chance of reducing the Democratic Party’s majority even if they don’t take all four seats, which would prohibit the party from enacting new taxes on its own.
Furthermore, if Republicans have a very successful year, they might take a 17-13 advantage in the chamber. In an area of the suburbs that tends to vote quite blue, the GOP is launching a well-funded battle against state senator Janeen Sollman, a Democrat from Hillsboro.
The Senate Republican leader, Knopp, declared that “any Portland suburb doesn’t want to be Portland.” Voters are considering who caused the issue and who they trust to fix it since Oregon City, Gladstone, and Hillsboro don’t want to become Portland.
The House in Oregon
The GOP’s chances of taking back control of the House are much less likely given that Democrats currently outnumber Republicans 37 to 23. It doesn’t follow that things couldn’t become intriguing.
The last time a Democratic president served half of his first term, in 2010, Democrats are attempting to prevent a replay of that situation. In the Oregon House that year, the party lost six seats, resulting in a 30-30 tie. Even if a loss this severe appears implausible, Democrats intend to lose ground.
Following last year’s redistricting, Democratic-held districts in Columbia County and close to Eugene are likely to change hands. The GOP is pursuing many more targets thanks to its current momentum and surplus funds.
Election Night races to watch include:
Salem, House District 19,
Raquel Moore-Green, a Republican state representative who presently represents this district, is vying for the Senate. It essentially represents the Democrats’ greatest hope to flip a House seat this year after significant changes during redistricting. In the 2020 election, Biden won the district by more than 16 percentage points.
Two former members of the Salem City Council are competing in the race: Republican T.J. Sullivan, an insurance broker, and Democrat Tom Andersen, an attorney.
Salem/Keizer, District 21 of the House
Republicans are optimistic about their chances of flipping this district that stretches north of Salem, despite Democrats’ demographic advantage.
The election for an open seat pits veteran Democrat Ramiro Navarro against Republican Kevin Mannix, an attorney and former longtime state House member who ran as the GOP’s candidate for governor in 2002. Republicans believe Mannix will win because he has raised a much larger sum of money than Navarro and because of his long history in politics and his name recognition.
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Hood River/The Dalles, House District 52
In the past, this district has shown to be fiercely contested. In 2020, Democrats barely prevailed by 84 votes. Redrawn political maps, however, have brought about change, as they have in every House campaign. House District 52 currently sweeps The Dalles up in its eastern arc.
Although there is no incumbent in the contest and Democrats still have a slight advantage—Biden won the district by over 8 percentage points—Republican Jeff Helfrich, a former police officer who lost by 84 votes two years ago, is leading the money race. He could be a tough opponent for The Dalles, Oregon, resident and Democrat Darcy Long, a city councilwoman and investment advisor.
Bend/Redmond, House District 53
Democrats have seen their prospects increase in and around Bend as a result of Central Oregon’s rapid population growth, which has outpaced that of the rest of the state. House District 53, which has consistently supported the Republican Party, used to entirely encircle the city without touching it.
Northwest Bend is been included in the district, which is now much more Democratic-friendly. Whether they flip the seat this year or in the future seems to be the main concern. Republican businessman Michael Sipe is running against Democrat attorney Emerson Levy in this race. Democrats appear to be strengthening their defenses in other regions rather than making a significant drive to win the seat, despite having a lead in the district. Levy has raised a tiny fraction of what Sipe has.
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