Christine Drazan of Canby is out and Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville is in as the new leader of the 23 Republicans in the Oregon House.
Drazan stepped out after two years as leader — she ousted Carl Wilson of Grants Pass in 2019, and who chose not to seek re-election in 2020 — to clear the way for a run for the Republican nomination for governor.
She set up a campaign committee on Nov. 24, a step that allows her to raise money, but hasn't filed her candidacy yet. Eleven other Republicans have done so. Among them are William "Bud" Pierce, a Salem physician and the 2016 nominee against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown; Bridget Barton of Lake Oswego, a political strategist; Jessica Gomez of Medford, a businesswoman and unsuccessful candidate for the Oregon Senate and Medford City Council; Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten; Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam; and Marc Thielman, Alsea schools superintendent.
Unlike Drazan, none of the other 11 has held state office.
"It has been a privilege to serve as Republican leader in the Oregon House during these challenging times," Drazan said in a statement. "Today I stepped down from this role to focus my efforts on preparations to serve our state in a new way. I have enjoyed working alongside my Republican colleagues who have been committed to amplifying the voices of tens of thousands of Oregonians that feel unheard by our current state leadership."
The 2022 race is wide open. Brown cannot run again because of term limits. She will have served close to eight years, minus the 38 days that John Kitzhaber served of his fourth term before he resigned under pressure in 2015 amid an ethics scandal.
Whoever is elected starts the term on Jan. 9, 2023.
Drazan, 49, is director of the nonprofit Cultural Advocacy Coalition. She was elected to the then-open District 39 seat in 2018, when Bill Kennemer vacated it after 10 years. She once worked for Mark Simmons, then of Elgin, who was House majority leader in 2000 and House speaker in 2001 and 2002.
Breese-Iverson, 47, is a real estate broker. She was appointed to the District 55 seat in August 2019, after Mike McLane of Powell Butte resigned to accept appointment as a circuit judge. (He has since resigned that job,)
She said in a statement that she would continue in Drazan's path in challenging Democrats, who have been the majority party in the House for the past decade. She once worked for Sen. Ted Ferrioli of John Day, who was Senate Republican leader from 2005 until 2017, and House Speaker Karen Minnis of Wood Village, who was House majority leader in 2001 and 2002 and speaker from 2003 to 2007.
"I'm proud of the work that this caucus has achieved together in recent years, standing up to the one-party dominance that controls this state," Breese-Iverson said. "The size of state government has ballooned after a decade of Democrats' liberal agenda-driven focus and as a result made Oregon more expensive for everyone. I look forward to continuing our work in this new role to fight for much-needed balance. House Republicans will not stop pushing for solutions that focus on the actual needs of Oregonians."
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