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West Linn rep no longer second-most-powerful in party

A mid-session election in the House Republican Caucus cost Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, a prominent seat at the table on Monday.

Parrish will be replaced by freshman Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville, as deputy leader.

Davis represents District 26, which encompasses Sherwood as well as Wilsonville.

Rep. Julie ParrishRep. John Davis

Parrish is in her second term and has announced her candidacy for re-election in November. She responded to the announcement by wishing the caucus leadership well, but declined to comment on the shift.

Some prominent House Republicans, like Rep. Vicki Berger of Salem, denied the vote signaled anything other than the caucus was shifting gears in an election year.

“We’re not rejecting Julie,” Berger said. “We’re trying to get the right people to do the job that needs to happen. It is our prerogative to pick the people that are going to be most effective to do the job between now and November.”

Berger said Parrish’s position in the caucus had been particularly focused on “vetting candidates,” and praised Parrish for her strength “with data and analyzing campaigns to good effect.”

“We’re about to change, quite frankly, from governing to campaigns, and we had all of our elected offices up for re-election,” Berger said. “This is between now and the election. This will be the team that will be in leadership” through November.

But Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, a gubernatorial candidate, described Monday’s caucus upset as a case of causation.

“There are people in the caucus that felt it was not appropriate for a caucus leader to be recruiting someone to run against another Republican in the primary,” Richardson said, referring to in-party strategizing around the soon-to-be-vacated seat in District 25.

Nine-year House veteran Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, announced her bid for Oregon Senate late last year. The same day, right-wing, Salem-area radio host Bill Post made a bid for her seat, and Richardson said Thatcher “recruited” Post for the position.

According to Richardson, Parrish’s major misstep was not only backing, but similarly recruiting, Barbara Jensen, who announced her candidacy for representative of District 25 on Feb. 11.

“The issue that led to the election of a new Republican leader was whether or not it was appropriate for a sitting Republican — a person in leadership — to be recruiting” another candidate for the Republican primary, Richardson said.

“What the issue came down to was, if Julie Parrish wants to be involved in the Republican primary, (fine), but not in a position of leader,” he said.

Berger claimed the timing of the vote was due to logistics, and the fact many Republican Caucus members live in outlying areas, making votes more difficult when out of session.

But Richardson said the election was scheduled in response to the previous caucus whip’s resignation.

“Wally Hicks (R-Grants Pass) said he needed to be freed from his position,” Richardson said.

Third-term Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, became the newest House Republican Whip, joining newcomer Davis.

“The position was, ‘Maybe it’s time for us to look at the leadership team as a team, and not just (by) individual position,’” Richardson said.

Berger described Davis as an ambitious young attorney and “another one of the young guns,” with a strong track record of fundraising for candidates.

“He’s well-situated — as is Julie — near the metro area,” Berger added.

She emphasized Parrish remained a respected member of the House Republican Caucus.

“God knows, I hope — and expect — she doesn’t give up on us either, and continues to do the things she does, well,” Berger said. “She’s not in any way indicated that she’s not going to work.”

Davis could not be reached for comment.

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