(The Center Square) – After two walkouts in two years by Republican lawmakers, Oregon’s Democratic majority is looking to lock up the numbers to end the practice for good.
Under state law, the Oregon legislature must meet quorum—or the minimum number of lawmakers present—to conduct regular business such as holding votes.
While Democrats effectively control the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, the party remains two seats short in both the House and Senate of reaching quorum on its own.
For Oregon Democrats, winning a supermajority in the legislature could come down to four races west of the Cascades.
State Senate races
In Deschutes County, which President Donald Trump carried by more than three points in 2016, state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, is among the few Republicans fighting a tough reelection bid against Navy veteran Eileen Kiely.
The county, which also sent Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden back to Congress in 2016, is among Oregon’s political wildcards.
The money game appears to be no contest. Knopp’s campaign has raised more than $1,057,000 while Kiely’s campaign has taken in $616,423.
But while Trump easily won the county’s smaller communities, Hillary Clinton won Bend, its largest city and county seat.
During his time in the legislature, Knopp has introduced bills bolstering exemptions to Oregon’s estate tax and banning abortion after 20 or more weeks outside of medical emergencies.
Knopp further pushed an amendment to state constitution eliminating legislative sessions during even-numbered years. He was the lone Republican state senator to remain in the capitol during this year’s Republican walkout over a carbon emissions bill backed by Gov. Kate Brown.
Kiely has run on a platform emphasizing state action to curb climate change and has backed a bill requiring gun owners to maintain safe gun storage.
In Marion County, where Trump performed four points better than Clinton, voters have long sent down ballot Democrats back to Congress, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader.
The county, home to the Oregon capitol and the most expensive race in the state, will see State Sen. Denyc Boles, R-Salem, or Democrat Deb Patterson win the seat of former state Sen. Jackie Winters who died last year.
Boles and Patterson’s campaigns have both raised more than a million dollars each. Boles was among the Republicans to walkout of the legislature this year while Patterson has pushed for lowering health care costs and renewable energy jobs.
State House races
Salem Chamber of Commerce member and former assistant to Winters, Raquel Moore-Green, is running for a seat in the statehouse this fall against Salem City Council member Jackie Leung. More than half a million dollars have been raised between the two of them.
Leung is campaigning on providing quality early-learning programs while Moore-Green, a former Marion County Commissioner appointed to succeed Boles, is pushing for bills with multiple subjects to include statements of intent.
In Yamhill County, where Trump won by eight points and down ballot Democrats won by solid leads, state Rep. Ron Noble, R-McMinnville, has out-fundraised Democratic opponent Lynnette Shaw nearly two to one.
Noble has been critical of protests against police brutality in Portland despite sponsoring several bills this year banning chokeholds and tear gas.
The former McMinnville police chief has joined Knopp in sponsoring bills banning on abortion after 20 weeks and legislative sessions in even years. He has also supported state grants to large employers for child care facilities.
Noble’s campaign treasurer is long-time Republican and Coos County cranberry grower Carol Russell, who has been sued for failing to disclose assets in campaign filings and dodging loan payments through bankruptcy.
Shaw is a small business owner of a speakeasy and accused of inflating her credentials in a ballot statement this year. Her campaign, treasurer, Jef Green, is a former Oregon cannabis political action committee boss who was accused of failing to disclose campaign assets in 2018.
As of Tuesday, more than 1.3 million Oregon ballots were received for counting or more than 46% of all 2020 ballots since ballots were first mailed out more than one week ago.
Oregon saw its highest voter turnout of more than 86% during the general election of 1960 with the general elections of 2004 and 2008 coming in at a close second and third.
Ballots are due on November 3. Per state law, final results must be certified by December 12.