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The Oregon Republican Party is alive and rarin' to kick some Democrat butts out of office this November. Extremely disappointed when the "red wave" that swept the rest of the country in 2016, including the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president, crashed against the Cascades (although he did carry Marion County with 48.4% plurality), Oregon and Marion County Republicans redoubled their efforts to save the state from the black hole of Democrat rule. A raucous primary season, which saw nine candidates vie for the nomination to be the next Republican governor, produced a strong slate of candidates for statewide and legislative offices. Acquaint yourself with our candidates, volunteer for your favorites, and vote for them all this November.
As she nears the end of the term of disgraced Gov. John Kitzhaber she was elected in 2016 to fulfill, Gov. Kate Brown faces an electorate deeply angry with the abject failure of her administration. Toilet "humor" epitomizes the commentary read on social media. Many within her own Party dislike her. Republicans are ready to replace the person at the top.
Deschutes County Republican Dr. Knute Buehler was the first to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Oregon Governor and soundly defeated all eight rivals, receiving about 47% of the Republican vote statewide but only 36% in Marion County. He is a Bend physician/surgeon, focusing on orthopedics and neurosurgery. His clinic, The Center, includes 34 physicians and 180 employees. He has represented his Bend-centric House District 54 in the state legislature since 2015. While most in media and perhaps politics describe him as moderate, there is no other way, when comparing him to either of his opponents, to describe him as anything but the conservative candidate. While his stated positions on a couple of "hot-button" issues irk many conservatives, his legislative record — voting nearly 90% of the time with the House Republican caucus and never considered one who would waver on crucial votes (i.e. would he flip to the Democrats) — shows his strong loyalty to both his fellow Republican legislators and the Oregon Republican Party platform.
Try as one might, it is difficult to figure out Oregon's 5th Congressional District. So much seems to favor Republicans yet time after time district voters send a Democrat incumbent back to D.C. Maybe it's just to keep one out of our hair. The incumbent is seeking his sixth term in Congress. It will be tough sledding. In 2016, 48% of District voters believed it time for someone new while 34% were willing to re-elect him; guess what happened.
Clackamas County (and former Marion County) Republican Mark Callahan, an information technology consultant now living in Oregon City, handily won the nod of 5th District Republicans, garnering about 61% of the votes both district-wide and in Marion County. He is likely familiar to county and district voters, having run in 2014 and 2016 for U.S. Senate against the Democrat incumbents. He is often accompanied on the campaign trail by either his wife or his two daughters, making this campaign very much a family affair. Mark is not shy when it comes to discussing how his faith forms the foundation to his perspective on issues facing the district. He also boldly calls out the incumbent for bowing under the pressures of the D.C. environment of moneyed interests while vowing that his faith will undergird his resistance to those pressures.
This year Republicans appear to be in a strong position to take back seats in the House of Representatives. Marion County Republicans are ready to do their part. The Marion County Republican senators facing re-election this year appear to be safe as do all five Marion County Republican representatives. You can read about all of these members here on our site where you can find newsletters, and information on other Marion County Republican servants. The four Republican challengers are mounting strong campaigns, taking it to the incumbents on the issues and reaching out to the voters to return Marion County to Republican prominence.
Marion County Republican Sen. Jackie Winters seeks her fourth four-year term in the State Senate. She will face Democrat Deb Patterson in November. Sen. Winters was promoted by her fellow senators to Senate Republican leader upon the resignation of Sen. Ted Ferrioli. At 80 years of age she is just now coming into her own. She amply rewarded their faith in her as she led them in the fight against the worst of Democrat legislation. They succeeded despite their small numbers. As the 2017 recipient of the Salem Chamber of Commerce's First Citizen Award, she shows that there is more to her life than politics; her life epitomizes lifelong service. The Independent Party of Oregon did not field a candidate in this race; Sen. Winters received the most write-in votes to receive the nomination.
Marion County Republican Greg Warnock faces the unenviable task of taking out the long-time Democrat incumbent and longest-serving Senate President, Peter Courtney. While in most years the odds would be virtually insurmountable, this year holds a ray of hope. People and groups supporting the National Popular Vote Compact have set their sights on defeating the senator. Mr. Warnock is the beneficiary of that effort. Greg owns a business that is on the threshhold of solving one of the biggest problems with alternative energy production: storage. His campaign is proving that he is a tremendous fit for the district and that he can offer real solutions to the legislature that has long struggled. The Independent Party of Oregon did not field a candidate in this race; Greg Warnock received the most write-in votes to receive the nomination.
Although Marion County Republican Sen. Kim Thatcher has served in the legislature since 2005, she is seeking re-election for the first time as a senator. Once again, as has happened when she served in the House, Sen. Thatcher faces a Democrat opponent not chosen by the voters of the district. Because Paul Diller, the winner of the Democrat primary failed to count the cost, Democrats in convention at Wilsonville on 28 July selected his opponent Sarah Grider, the only person willing to be considered. Since her first election in 2014, Republicans have lost most of the registration edge they hold in the district, due primarily to substantial population growth in Clackamas and Washington counties. Even so, Sen. Thatcher received nearly 1,000 votes (including the write-in votes she received to win the nomination of the IPO) more than the combined totals of the two Democrats.
Marion County (and primarily Clackamas County) Republican Sen. Alan Olsen does not have much of a Marion County constituency. The southern-most portion of his district (i.e. part of House Dist. 39 swoops down (or over, if you wish) to pick up the portion of the county between the north city limits of Aurora and the county line that follows Arndt Rd. west until it reaches House Dist. 18. While HD 39 is notably rural and conservative, providing Republicans with a fairly comfortable registration edge, that advantage disappears in the wider SD 20 that takes in the urban areas of Oregon City, Gladstone, and Milwaukie. Thus, Democrats hold a narrow 2% registration advantage. That said, Sen. Olsen has represented the district since 2010. Having won re-election comfortably in 2014, Sen. Olsen seeks his third term, facing off against Dr. Charles Gallia, a policy analyst with the Oregon Health Authority.
Unlike 2016, Marion County (and Linn County) Republican Rep. Sherrie Sprenger will face a Democrat opponent in November. Even so, she, like most of the Republican candidates on this page, won the IPO nomination (write-in votes) and nearly three times more Republicans turned out to vote than Democrats. Rep. Sprenger remains quite popular among her constituents and the compliment paid her by the editorial staff of Salem's Statesman-Journal in 2012 that she "epitomizes the concept of the citizen-legislator" still holds. Having served on the Lebanon School board and with the Lebanon High School Warriors among her constituents, she has led the fight against political correctness for school mascots. As House Republican Whip it is evident that she has the respect of her fellow legislators, too.
Marion County Republican Rep. Rick Lewis is facing his first election to represent House District 18. He was Mayor of Silverton (the largest city in the district) when appointed to the seat upon the resignation of Rep. Vic Gilliam, who had held the seat for five terms, in 2017 just prior to the opening of the 79th Legislative Assembly. He stepped down as Silverton's mayor on the day he was sworn in, 23 February. Because Rep. Lewis was sworn in almost a month into the session, he had to scramble to get up to speed on bills, committee responsibilities, and the myriad other aspects of representing HD 18. Based on the results of the 2018 primary, he was more than up to the task. The IPO did not run a candidate and Rick received the most write-in votes to secure that nomination, too. He will face Barry Shapiro, also of Silverton, in November.
Marion County Republican Rep. Denyc Boles wants to return to the Capitol, but this time elected in her own right. She was appointed to the seat upon the resignation of Rep. Jodi Hack just after the 2017 regular (long) session. Casting her first votes during this year's short session, while exciting and groundbreaking for her, was not her first experience in the legislature. She was the office manager for Rep. Kevin Cameron during much of his time representing HD 19, and so had played an important role in the shaping of his legislative legacy. As in the other legislative races here, the IPO did not identify a candidate; Denyc received the most write-in votes to become the nominee for that party, too. She will face Democrat Mike Ellison in November.
Fresh off her husband's 2016 campaign for governor, Selma Pierce decided to take up her mother's challenge: "You should run." She recounts, "Mom and Dad were always encouraging me to get out there and do something useful.” Mrs. Pierce, a retired dentist, has long been deeply involved in her community, including stints on the Chemeketa (CC) Foundation Board and the Oregon Community Foundation reviewing applications for grants. During her husband's campaign the two were almost always seen together as she spoke on his behalf at campaign events and for TV and radio spots. She managed his social media outreach, as well. Her husband is now gladly paying her back by switching roles as they continue on the campaign trail together.
Marion County Republican Jack Esp is not one to back down from a political challenge. While living in eastern Oregon in 2012 he challenged an entrenched incumbent for his party's nomination. Once again he faces an entrenched incumbent. Jack Esp is a retired executive of companies providing financial management to hospitals. He has extensive background examining government intrusion into the healthcare field, having led teams for Oregon Citizens Lobby analyzing healthcare and other related legislation. Over the last six years he has had a hand in analyzing more than 200 bills as well as lobbying on behalf of OCL during session. He now seeks the opportunity to have his hand in writing some decent legislation.
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Marion County Republican Marty Heyen simply cannot get out of the political arena. While much of that may have to do with the fact that her husband chairs the Marion County Republican Central Committee, she is serving the third year of her first term on the Salem-Keizer School Board. She has also devoted time to the community by serving on the Salem Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordinating Council and the Marion County Amateur Radio Emergency Services. As a pro-life conservative, she believes that nothing is more important than protecting our families and our special quality of life. That is why she opposes tax-payer funded abortions, supports securing our border and banning sanctuary cities, and would vote to cut taxes for middle-class families.
Marion County (and Polk County) Republican Rep. Mike Nearman is finally free. For the first time in four years he does not have to face down the ghosts of Republicans past. One can suppose that with margins of victory approaching 2-1, district voters have made it quite clear that they appreciate and admire his unequivocal, no-nonsense approach to Oregon politics; they have no desire to reverse course. He makes it clear, both through his voting record and issue advocacy, that he firmly holds to the principles of small, limited government, summing it up thus: "What makes our country great is the great freedoms we enjoy. It seems that more and more, our governments at all levels want to deny us freedom, tax us more, and spend excessively. I choose to stand for freedom for all the citizens of Oregon." Nothing vague there.
In his first two terms in the legislature, Marion County Republican Rep. Bill Post has established quite a reputation as he competed with Rep. Nearman to cast the most "No" votes. Being outspoken must come naturally for Rep. Post; after all, how else does one make a living at being a radio talk host? His latest foray into controversy gained him national attention. When supporters of restrictive gun laws in March submitted signatures to the Secretary of State's office seeking to qualify IP 43 for a ballot title/caption so that it could then circulate for signatures, Rep. Post posted the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the chief petitioners on the page of a Facebook public group. This raised the ire of a Texas writer for Vanity Fair who retaliated by posting Rep. Post's address, phone number, AND Social Security number. Nonetheless, Rep. Post continues to cruise to re-election, all such controversy all ready baked in to his reputation.
Upon the retirement of long-time public servant Rep. Bill Kennemer, Christine Drazan, a newcomer to campaigning for elective office, stepped into the fray. She defeated ORP Treasurer Mike Lee in May to earn the shot to win the seat in November. She is familiar with the halls of the Capitol, having worked on staff of top Republican leadership during the 1990s and early 2000s. She has also served on the Canby School District's budget committee as well as the Clackamas County Planning Commission. She is the Executive Director of a non-profit that works to preserve Oregon's history and culture. While improving high school graduation rates and reforming state spending and budgeting processes drive her campaign, she also advocates for the Trump tax cuts: "We’re already seeing politicians in Salem who are trying to eliminate the progress made at the federal level by raising taxes here at home, and trying to roll back the benefits for local taxpayers. We need to protect those tax cuts...."
While the three Marion County Commissioner positions are still partisan and thus require a primary vote to determine candidates for a November election, the other elective positions are non-partisan. This year Marion County Commissioner Janet Carlson announced her retirement, making her seat open.
Marion County Republican Commissioner Kevin Cameron is finishing just his first term on the commission, but that by no means indicates a lack of political experience. He served in the Oregon House of Representatives from 2005-2014, representing District 19. In addition to his public duties representing the citizens and residents of Marion County, Mr. Cameron devotes much of his private life to the community. As a business leader, he helped form the Corban University Business Executives and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. As a father, he has worked with Boys & Girls Clubs of Marion/Polk Counties, .the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts, Family Building Blocks, Liberty House, Salem-Keizer Schools Foundation, and Salem Area Young Life, Commissioner Cameron faces Shelaswau Crier, a human services advocate, in November.
Marion County Republican Colm Willis returns to the campaign trail, this time seeking the seat of outgoing Commissioner Janet Carlson. Apparently his first foray into elective politics, an unsuccessful bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader in 2016, only whetted his appetite. He faces a formidable opponent in Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess, who is seeking a place on the commission for the second time. Mr. Willis is an attorney in private practice from Stayton. His focus is on business law, specializing in resolving issues faced by small business owners and entrepreneurs. As shown through his legal practice, he believes that Marion County should be a place where a good education, a good job, a good home, and a secure retirement are available to every resident.