State Democrats set process for Rep. Hernandez replacement
The 30-day clock starts on a replacement for state Rep. Diego Hernandez, the Portland Democrat whose resignation takes effect March 15.
The deadline for Multnomah County commissioners to appoint a replacement is April 15.
The Democratic Party of Oregon has set in motion a process to choose three to five nominees for the District 47 seat in East Portland. The list would go to county commissioners by March 15.
"It is important that we are ready to promptly fill a legislative vacancy so that the people of House District 47 are represented in the Oregon House throughout this session," Carla "K.C." Hanson, the state party chairwoman, said in a statement.
Hernandez resigned ahead of a potential House vote for expulsion, which the House Committee on Conduct recommended Feb. 5 after it concluded he committed multiple violations of a legislative rule against sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.
By law, Hernandez's replacement must also be a Democrat. Oregon does not hold special elections to fill state legislative vacancies.
The party says late filings cannot be accepted.
Prospective candidates for nomination must meet all the legal requirements of a candidate running in an actual election: (1) Being a registered Democrat for at least 180 days prior to Hernandez's resignation date of March 15; (2) Residency in District 47 for one year; and (3) Not being in custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections.
The state party has announced it will handle the selection of nominees through mail ballots, the same way it conducted the process for the Senate District 24 seat, which Democrat Shemia Fagan of Portland vacated with two years remaining in her term after she was elected Oregon secretary of state on Nov. 3. Kayse Jama, who ran third in the 2018 primary, was appointed to the Senate seat.
The party will compile the names of prospective candidates, subject to the qualifications listed above, and let precinct committee people within District 47 choose the nominees via mail ballots starting March 3. Ballots would have to be returned to the state party by March 14, and the ballots would be tallied March 15.
The names of three to five finalists would then be forwarded to Multnomah County commissioners, who can conduct interviews and will appoint someone to complete the 21 months remaining in Hernandez's term. District 47 is entirely within Multnomah County.
If for some reason the vacancy is not filled within 30 days of Hernandez's resignation, Gov. Kate Brown can appoint any Democrat who is otherwise qualified. She would not be bound by the nominees compiled by the state party. Brown has not had to exercise that authority, but it has been used in the past.
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