The class of '07 - as great as the class of '73?

The Oregonian profiles the legislative class of 2007, featuring ten Democrats and two Republicans. They're being hailed as a group that's serious and ready to lead, unwilling to sit back and be treated like rookies.

There was a time when first-year legislators kept quiet and learned from the old-timers. Not the 10 Democrats and two Republicans in this year's House freshman class. They didn't win competitive elections or take time away from their families and businesses to come to Salem and shut up.

In fact, some Capitol insiders say the 2007 freshmen might be the most promising class in more than 30 years. They're highly educated: Eight hold graduate degrees. One has a doctorate, another is a Rhodes Scholar. Politically, they span the spectrum from small-town conservative to Portland leftie. And they bring considerable civic and professional experience to the job.

Several have taken on highly visible roles, including leading the floor debate on legislation establishing a rainy day savings account and on bills outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians. Others are working behind the scenes to find consensus on everything from a statewide computer recycling law to corporate tax policy.

The ten Democrats are:

Jean Cowan (Newport), Nancy Nathanson (Eugene), Chris Edwards (Eugene), Sara Gelser (Salem), Brian Clem (Salem), Tobias Read (Beaverton), David Edwards (Hillsboro), Suzanne Bonamici (Portland), Tina Kotek (Portland), and Ben Cannon (Portland).

The two Republicans are Vic Gilliam (Molalla) and Ron Maurer (Grants Pass).

The Class of 1973 has often been described as the all-star rookie class, with 29 new members. (See the full 1973 class here.) It included:

* City Commissioner and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D)
* Labor Commissioner Mary Wendy Roberts (D)
* Supt. of Public Instruction Stan Bunn (R)
* Speaker and Portland Mayor Vera Katz (D)
* Portland School Board member and lobbyist Stephen Kafoury (D)
* Clackamas County Commissioner Ed Lindquist (D)
* Ralph Groener (D), now a lobbyist for AFSCME

And, of course, quite a number of longtime legislators like Bill McCoy (D) and D.E. Jones (R) served their first terms in 1973.

As for the Class of '07, it's perhaps Sara Gelser who has the best description of the learning curve:

"It's like when you have your first baby," says Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis. "You think you know what to expect. But you really have no idea until you get the baby home."

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • Jessica (unverified)

    As someone who grew up in Oregon w/out flouride in her water and has a terrible fear of the dentist - I am VERY curious to see that two page letter Ben Cannon wrote explaining his vote against it. And I really like Ben. I don't want to hear why crazies think it's a bad idea, I want to hear why Ben Cannon thinks it's a bad idea. If I lived in his district he would not hear the end of it.

  • (Show?)

    Ben spent some time in England on his Rhodes scholarship. Maybe he thinks bad teeth are sexy?

  • Jessica (unverified)

    That's a pretty good one!

  • Dave Porter (unverified)
    <h2>Yes, 1973 had a great class and many went on to higher office and distinction, but two qualifier: 29 freshmen is more than 14 and politics was different then. Politics now is nastier, more partisan, more expensive, and more driven by hot button issues. The pace of social and economic changes has picked up with an acompanying increase in blowback from all side. So I wish the class of '07 well! We do have a lot at stake in their success. May they weather the political storms and lead us well.</h2>
in the news 2007

connect with blueoregon