A Notable “Blue Wave” Gives Democrats “Supermajorities” in Oregon House, Senate

Governor Kate Brown will serve her first official term, after defeating State Representative Knute Buehler.

Kate Brown election confirmation

Oregon Governor Kate Brown

11/13/18

A hotly contested gubernatorial race, a divisive national political scene, and four ballot measures made for a record midterm voter turnout of 68.45 percent in Oregon.

Governor Kate Brown, who was appointed to replace former Governor John Kitzhaber upon his resignation in 2015, won her first official term in the Nov. 6 elections. While some polls accurately predicted she’d win by two to three percentage points, other polls called the race a “tossup” right up to election day.

With Republican voter registration declining – 25 percent in 2018 versus 36 percent in 2006 – Democrats elected “supermajorities” in both houses. This could allow Democrats to enact tax increases without the need for bipartisan collaboration.

The State Senate had just three competitive seats in play. Democrats picked up one seat with the victory of Jeff Golden (D, District 3). The next race to follow was Senator Chuck Thomsen (R, District 26) who held a lead of just 395 votes over his Democratic challenger Chrissy Reitz as of Thursday. Lastly, Alan Olsen (R, District 20) held on to his seat.

“The Oregon House held many interesting races this year and election night brought some expected victories and a few big surprises,” said Pamela Leavitt, Northwest Credit Union Association’s Policy Advisor for Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots. “Democrats picked up two key Portland seats in Wilsonville and West Linn, and another in Hood River.”

In West Linn, Incumbent Julie Parrish (R) lost her seat to newcomer Rachel Prusak (D). Rep. Parrish was the author of the controversial Measure 101 related to healthcare on the ballot last January and received a great deal of criticism for her work on that issue. In Hood River, short-term incumbent Jeff Helfrich (R) – appointed to the seat in 2018 – could not gain enough momentum to beat challenger Anna Williams (D), who had strong registration numbers on her side. Finally, in the surprise of the night, newcomer Courtney Neron (D) beat freshman incumbent Rick Vial (D) in the Wilsonville/King City area.

“This race was not on anyone’s radar as being a toss-up,” Leavitt said.

Oregon credit union advocates are invited to meet with their legislators Feb. 20 during Credit Union Day at the Capitol.

At the federal level, neither Sen. Jeff Merkley nor Ron Wyden were up for election this year. All six Oregon incumbents easily won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Credit union advocates are encouraged to attend CUNA GAC to share the Credit Union Difference with their federal elected officials in Washington, D.C. March 10-14.