HD-47: The fourth open seat of 2012

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

With Rep. Jefferson Smith's announcement that he's running for mayor, one thing we know is certain: He won't be returning to the legislature.

That makes four open seats so far in 2012 (after Mary Nolan, Brad Witt, and Jean Cowan) and the second in Portland. (And if you're keeping score, that's zero Republicans and four Democrats.)

District 47, in the outer eastside of Portland, is a safe Democratic seat - and was largely unchanged in redistricting, with some minor tinkering around the edges. (Old map here).

Under the new map (shown), the district remains largely tucked into the corner east and south of the intersection of I-205 and I-84. The district is roughly between East 102nd and 162nd, and between I-84 and Division (with small chunks south to Powell and north to Sandy.)

Previously, the 47th was held by Jeff Merkley, who was first elected in 1998 and served until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2008. Shortly after Merkley announced his run for the Senate, Smith moved into the district and subsequently ran unopposed in 2008. Smith, of course, was a formidable candidate - so it's hard to know if the lack of opposition reflected a lack of interest on the part of other candidates. No word yet on any prospective 2012 candidates. Stay tuned.

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    Quick question - if Rep. Witt loses the special primary, will he retain his OR House seat? (I ask both legally and politically, here)

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      Presumably, Rep. Witt is running because he intends and expects to win. In that event, his seat would be open.

      Should he lose in the special primary in November, or in the special general in Jamuary, he would - like everyone else - have until mid-March to file for re-election to his House seat.

      All the same logic, btw, applies to Brad Avakian and the labor commissioner job. (Suzanne Bonamici, by contrast, isn't up until 2014.)

      Those realities may be the reason we haven't seen anyone file for either of those races.

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        The other issue (not) at play here is ORS 249.013 - the "multiple lucrative office" rule. Because nothing else is on the CD 1 special election ballot(s), there is no conflict with candidates filing for multiple lucrative offices at the same election. Different story with Portland council/mayoral race, however, which is why Nolen and Smith have to give up their House seats to run.

        As for HD 47, I realize almost everyone here is focused on Democratic candidates to replace Jefferson Smith. However, I was Jeff Merkley's GOP opponent in 2006 and it didn't take long after Smith's announcement before I was getting inquiries again.

        The answer is No. I have no intention of running in HD 47, particularly since I was just elected in May to a 4-year term on the nonpartisan Reynolds School Board, which is an important job I take seriously.

        I have no idea who the GOP candidate may be, but I know they will not receive any caucus support due to the high registration edge to Democrats and the fact the Republican candidate will still be running against Jefferson Smith and Jeff Merkley in the background.

        So you can scratch me as a potential HD 47 candidate from "the other side." I am focused on my Reynolds obligations and frankly prefer commuting to Fairview City Hall twice a month than to Salem every day.

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    Duke Shepard for state legislature!

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    This is also the least-white district in Portland, with African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans disproportionately concentrated compared to the rest of the state. Any chance of getting a non-white Democrat elected here?

    Oh, and it's about D+12, so while the least Democratic in Portland, still safe.

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    Annette Mattson is indeed a fabulous advocate for the needs of outer East Portland, but she lives in HD 48. But I hope that whomever declares will continue to highlight the challenges and opportunity of the district. The constituents deserve no less.

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      Because I know you follow my Reynolds activity, you can see above I have no intention of running n HD 47 or using the school board as a "stepping stone" to higher office.

      With 11,000 students, 1,000 employees, $100 million budget, Reynolds has plenty to keep me busy, beginning with a Raiders football game tonight at MHCC.

      The other question is whether Robert Lee will use the school board to run in HD 49, something Robert has insisted he will not do. So, at this point, Robert and I have declared our intentions to sit out partisan legislative races and focus on the Reynolds business at hand.

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        Bruce--kudos to you and Robert for announcing these intentions. We seriously need school board members committed to working though the challenges we face these days rather than seeing the school board as a stepping stone to higher office.

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