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Expect changes in the Legislature and the state's congressional delegation

PMG FILE PHOTO - The biggest name not on the ballot in May is Kate Brown, who is termed out as Oregon governor. A whopping 23 people, so far, have joined the race to replace her.

The governorship is usually Oregon's marquee political race in election years when the presidency is not on the ballot — but 2022 is shaping up as an especially spirited year.

With no obvious favorite to succeed Democrat Kate Brown, who cannot run again because of term limits, more than two dozen Democrats and Republicans already have filed their candidacies for the May 17 primary. The total — 26 as of Jan. 3 — is twice as many as filed in the most recent open-seat elections for Oregon governor in 2002 (11 candidates) and 2010 (12 candidates).

Among the 12 Democrats so far are Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla, State Treasurer Tobias Read, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Patrick Starnes, the 2018 Independent Party nominee who dropped out and threw his support to Brown.

State elections officials were seeking more information from Yamhill native Nick Kristof, the former New York Times reporter and columnist who moved back to his family farm near the tiny town. He filed on Dec. 20. It may set up a legal test of the constitutional three-year residency requirement for governor. The normal residency requirement is one year, and that is waived for lawmakers after redistricting.

Among the 14 Republicans so far are William "Bud" Pierce, a Salem physician and the party's 2016 nominee against Brown; Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten; Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam; political strategist Bridget Barton of Lake Oswego and Marc Thielsen, superintendent of the Alsea School District and a name that has arisen of late as a possible replacement for former Newberg School District superintendent Joe Morelock.

Canby resident Christine Drazan, a two-term legislator and former Republican leader of the Oregon House, has assembled a campaign committee and is expected to file soon.

Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state senator from Scappoose who said she will run as an independent candidate in the general election, must first gather 24,000 signatures after the primary.

The filing deadline for the primary is March 8. Minor-party candidates qualify for the general election under a separate process.

When she leaves office Jan. 9, 2023, Brown will have served two full terms, minus the 38 days that John Kitzhaber served in his fourth term before he resigned amid an ethics scandal. Brown, as secretary of state, was next in line in succession.

While the race for governor may command more attention than usual, there are other positions up:

- Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries: The incumbent in the nonpartisan office, Val Hoyle of Eugene, will seek the open 4th District seat in the U.S. House.

- U.S. senator: Democrat Ron Wyden, who has held the seat since 1996, faces mostly little-known candidates so far, including Albany resident Jo Rae Perkins, the Republican who lost to Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley in 2020.

- U.S. House: Three seats will draw more attention than usual.

Oregon's new 6th District extends from southeast Washington County and small parts of Clackamas and Multnomah counties into Yamhill and Polk counties and the portion of Marion County that takes in Salem and Woodburn. Among the Democratic candidates so far are state Rep. Andrea Salinas of Lake Oswego, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Kevin Easton and Kathleen Harder, both of Salem. Among the Republican candidates are state Rep. Ron Noble of McMinnville; Amy Ryan Courser, a former Keizer city counselor and the 2020 GOP nominee against Democrat Kurt Schrader of Canby in the 5th District; and Dundee Mayor David Russ.

In Oregon's redrawn 5th District, which now takes in Bend and Linn County and excludes Salem, six-term incumbent Schrader faces a primary challenge from Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Terrebonne, the 2018 nominee against then-Rep. Greg Walden for the 2nd District seat and a 2020 candidate for secretary of state.

In the 4th District of southwest Oregon, Democrat Peter DeFazio of Springfield is retiring after 36 years, an Oregon record for a House seat.

Oregon's three other House seats are considered safe for the incumbents: Democrats Suzanne Bonamici in the 1st; Democrat Earl Blumenauer in the 3rd, and Republican Cliff Bentz of Ontario of the 2nd Congressional District.

- Legislature: All 60 House seats and 16 Senate seats — one for a two-year unexpired term — are up after redistricting following the 2020 Census.

Turnover will be greater in the House because of the departures of Kotek and several other members. Democrats Wlnsvey Campos of Aloha, Mark Meek of Oregon City and Janeen Sollman of Hillsboro, and Republican Suzanne Weber of Tillamook plan to run for the Senate. Democratic Reps. Jeff Reardon of Happy Valley, Sheri Schouten of Beaverton and Brad Witt of Clatskanie, and Republican Rep. Jack Zika of Redmond are retiring. Republicans Christine Drazan and Ron Noble have announced for other offices.

In the Senate, Democrats Ginny Burdick of Portland, Betsy Johnson of Scappoose and Chuck Riley of Hillsboro already have left, and Democrat Lee Beyer of Springfield and Chuck Thomsen of Hood River say they will not seek re-election. Burdick's seat is filled by an interim appointee, but the two years remaining in her term will be filled by election from the newly drawn District 18, which is entirely in Washington County; Burdick's district has included portions of Southwest Portland.

Filings for the U.S. House and state legislative seats opened Jan. 3, the first business day after the redrawn congressional and legislative district boundaries took effect Jan. 1. Other filings have been open since Sept. 9.


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