Witt won't run again, blames 'gerrymandered' new district
State Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, will not run for re-election under the new district boundaries, the representative said Monday, Oct. 4.
Witt, who has served in the Oregon House since 2005, directly attributed his decision to the outcome of redistricting. The Legislature altered Witt's district significantly, approving new lines that are significantly less favorable for the Democrat when it met in special session last month.
Witt voted against the legislative maps last month, one of only two House Democrats to do so.
"I think that the maps were heavily gerrymandered, and that's contrary to the law and to practice, and, I think, to the good sense of Oregonians," Witt said.
President Donald Trump would have carried the new House District 31 by about 8 percentage points last year, according to an analysis by Dave's Redistricting App, a nonpartisan tool for drawing and analyzing district maps.
Trump carried the current HD 31 by just under 5 points.
In the new boundaries for HD 31, Witt said Republican areas were "overemphasized" and Democratic areas "were de-emphasized to the point that they were scrubbed" out of the district.
Witt's district lost suburban areas west of Portland that are heavily Democratic — and which put him over the top in his 2020 re-election bid — while gaining more conservative parts of western Washington County that are currently represented by Rep. Suzanne Weber, R-Tillamook.
The new district lines also cut out Clatskanie, the nearest city to Witt's home in unincorporated Columbia County, trading it to Weber's House District 32.
To keep Witt in the running, Democrats could have shifted the boundary east near Clatskanie, pulling Witt into District 32, which went for President Joe Biden by a 5 point margin in 2020.
Witt said his decision not to run again in 2022 was "a result of this process."
"Politics is a numbers game, whether you're participating in committee, running for election. … It's all a numbers game, and in this instance, the numbers are not there," Witt said.
Witt has represented HD 31 since 2005 but has faced more competition from Republican opponents in recent years.
In the 2020 election, Witt retained his seat by just over 500 votes, thanks to Multnomah and Washington county voters. Columbia County itself went for Republican Brian Stout by a 6-point margin.
Witt said this year's redistricting process was unlike the last proceedings, which took place in 2011.
"I think that the public's input had a lot greater impact in '11," Witt said.
This year, he argued, "It has the appearance at least that public input did not result in any changes."
The other House Democrat who voted against the new legislative maps, Rep. Brian Clem of Salem, has also said he won't run for re-election.
Clem's home was drawn into the same Salem-based district as fellow Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, a Republican, although that new district was handily carried by both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020 and is expected to favor Democrats.
Reached before Witt's announcement, Stout declined to say if he planned to enter the race for District 31 again. The new maps are "still being evaluated, that's all I'll say," Stout said.
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