Evaluating the State Legislative Races

Over at Ridenbaugh Press, blogger Randy Stapilus evaluates some of the notable State Legislative races that are shaping up for 2008. The list goes beyond just predicting competitive races:

These are the contests which, from this viewpoint, seem to have the most significance or analytical interest as we look to where Northwest politics goes from here. It isn’t a list of which seats will change parties (though we think there’s a good shot some of them will) or which incumbents are most endangered (among other things, some of these are open seats). Rather: Which contests stand to say the most about local and Northwest politics?

The first district on the list currently is the home of Karen Minnis:

House 19: Incumbent, Karen Minnis, R-Fairview. This lonely Republican Multnomah seat has remained so over the last decade partly because of the couple who held it, husband and wife team John and (at present) Karen Minnis, who a year ago was speaker of the House. And yet she got a scare in 2004 and was pressed so hard in 2006 she had to spend more than a million dollars to hold this state House seat, and then by not much (52.2%). This east-of-Portland suburban area seems to be trending the way of nearly all other Portland suburbs, and Democrats have fair reason to think they can take this seat in 08, and two filed: Nick Kahl, a Lewis & Clark teacher assistant, and real estate broker Barbara Kyle. Republicans are not giving up without a battle, though, and have an apparently strong candidate in school board member John Nelsen. Could be that for the third election in a row, this will be the marquee House race in Oregon.

The next two are interesting (and bold) picks:

House 6: Incumbent, Sal Esquivel, R-Medford. In some ways an unlikely add to this list; Esquivel has been around a while and hasn’t aroused any particular animus; Democrats would much rather do in, say, neighboring Representative Dennis Richardson. But Richardson would be a hard get, and the ground under Esquivel’s district - the local Medford area - may be subtly changing. That isn’t just guesswork: Esquivel (who isn’t among the House members who have yet filed for re-election) was held to 51.9% last year.

House 11A: Incumbent, John Huffman, R-The Dalles. Suppress the gag reflex for a moment before dismissing this, and consider a few items. 1. It is true that 59 has been a solidly Republican area for a long time, and includes some of Oregon’s most solidly Republican counties (e.g., Grant, Jefferson, Wheeler, etc.). However, the biggest chunk of population is in Wasco, and The Dalles shows clear signs of following in Hood River’s footsteps - leftward. 2. In 06, likable Republican incumbent John Dallum, who’d done nothing (that we’re aware of) to upset his district, won with just 50.6% over Democrat Jim Gilbertson, a result that should have gotten more statewide attention than it did. 3. Dallum has resigned and been replaced by Huffman, who will have to restart the sales process. This is worth a watch.

Also discussed are House Districts 60, 30, 39, 38, 24, and Senate Districts 23 and 27.

Read the rest and comment at Ridenbaugh Press.


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