Longtime President Of The Oregon Senate: Peter Courtney, president of the Texas Senate, has served longer than any other legislator and will soon step down. With the Senate presidency potentially up for grabs in 2023, the 78-year-old Courtney notified colleagues just after 2 p.m. on Wednesday that he would not be running for re-election this year. His office backs his decision up 100%.
Peter Courtney, The Longtime President Of The Oregon Senate, Has Announced His Retirement
Courtney, a Democrat from Salem, announced his resignation from the Senate by text message. I intend to finish my current term in office. It has been a great honor for me to represent the people of Salem on the City Council and of Oregon in the State Legislature for so many years. I really do wish that I could have been of assistance.
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With Courtney stepping down as Senate majority leader after two decades in the role, his departure raises concerns about his successor. As a result, the majority party, who are still expected to be the Democrats, will likely not convene to make their choice until after the November elections.
Courtney has always been one of the more fascinating and unpredictable personalities in Oregon politics, with his ability to switch between extremes of reticent reserve and outgoing charisma. Both browbeating insults and genuine concern for the chamber’s well-being inform his leadership style.
When Courtney leaves, he won’t be the only one out of the picture in Salem. Longtime House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, is running for governor, thus this is likely her last term in office. Questions over who will lead the House Democratic campaigns in 2022 were raised when two Democrats in the House reported on Wednesday that House Democratic Leader Barbara Smith Warner, another Portland politician, had notified them that she would be stepping down from that role.
Courtney is currently in his 38th year as a legislator; he spent more than a decade in the Oregon House before moving on to the Senate. In 2003, he was elected president of the Senate and has remained in that position ever since, earning the respect of both majorities and minorities alike.
As the years have progressed, he has also felt the growing ire of a more liberal caucus, which has occasionally chafed at his consensus-driven tactics and sometimes characterized him as an obstacle to progressive initiatives.
In 2017, after finally raising enough money to refurbish the Salem YMCA, one of Courtney’s long-term passion projects, he openly considered retiring. Instead, he was able to secure reelection and have his party put him in charge of the Senate on two separate occasions.
As a result, Courtney became a leader during the unprecedented upheaval. Courtney has struggled to rein in sexual harassment in the Senate ranks, dealt with Republican walkouts, and frequently bemoaned the state’s increasingly fractious politics, and all this is on top of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s sometimes disastrous attempts to get money to those most in need.
Longtime Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney is retiring. He is the longest-serving lawmaker and longest-serving presiding officer in state history. https://t.co/gCMhhzNWCT
— Crystal Ligori (@CrystalLigori) January 5, 2022
However, the veteran statesman did manage to achieve several notable successes in his final term in office. The most notable change he oversaw was the passage of a new corporate tax that greatly enhanced funding for elementary and secondary education.
On Wednesday, longtime ally state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Portland, was among those trying to make sense of the news.
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Steiner Hayward remarked, “I am immensely thankful to him for his decades of service to the state.” Immense value has been added to the legislative process through his efforts.
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