Victor Gilliam to take Mac Sumner's seat

First, the news. From the O:

Victor Gilliam, Silverton property manager and former aide to U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield, will replace Rep. Mac Sumner, R-Molalla, in the Legislature. ... Five of the six commissioners, all Republicans, supported Gilliam, who was one of five people nominated by local GOP leaders.

And, some opinion. From yesterday's Oregonian, prior to the decision, columnist Andy Parker:

But this old political shell game knows no geographic boundaries. It's an Election Day sleight-of-hand that's long been practiced by both parties in Oregon. And there's no end in sight.

It works like this: A candidate gets elected to office then steps down, leaving his own district's party machine to orchestrate a replacement. Even if the legislator steps down the day after winning, no new election is held. Party precinct delegates select a list of nominees from which county commissioners choose the legislator. ...

But this absurdly undemocratic process has a simple cure: Just change state law so that every empty seat is filled by a special election. And forbid any person appointed to temporarily fill any seat from running for it.

Sure, special elections are expensive. But the truth is, you would rarely have them because you'd have the political parties putting different kinds of pressures on candidates they suspect won't fill out their term.

You can bet that system, too, would have its own challenges. But it would beat letting 58 people play legislative lottery games with the votes of 57,000 Oregonians.


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