Shumway: Only three Senate seats considered to be in play

Jimmy Emerson photo/Flickr
Jimmy Emerson photo/Flickr
##Julia Shumway
##Julia Shumway

Senators serve four-year terms with staggered elections, so only half the Senate’s 30 seats are up any given year. And the 2024 election is just a formality for two senators — Fred Girod, R-Silverton, and Kathleen Taylor, D-Portland — as they have no opponents from either party.

Voters will send at least six new senators to Salem because Republicans who participated in a six-week walkout are barred from seeking re-election. But that isn’t expected to materially shift the balance of power, as four Republicans and 11 Democrats represent districts that aren’t up until 2026, and most competitive races take place in mid-term years.

Democrats are hoping to add one or two new senators to their 17-member caucus. Republicans are hoping they can pick off at least one Democrat.

Most Senate districts up for election this year are strongly Democratic or strongly Republican, thus aren’t likely to change hands. However, Democrats have their eyes on the coastal 5th District and the Bend-based 27th District, while Republicans are optimistic about flipping the 25th District in east Multnomah County.

“We’re feeling really optimistic about this cycle,” said Oliver Muggli, executive director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund. “We have great candidates filed who represent their communities extraordinarily well, are ready to put in the work necessary to win, and we know that Oregonians fundamentally share certain progressive values about what they want their state to look like.”

None of the targeted races feature contested primaries.

In the general election, Sen. Dick Anderson, R-Lincoln City, will face Democratic City Councilor Jo Beaudreau of Florence in the 5th District. Sen. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutsdale, will square off with Republican insurance agent and Army Reserves Col. Raymond Love of Gresham in the 25th District.

The 27th District is open because Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, was barred after leading the 2023 walkout. Bend City Councilor Anthony Broadman, a Democrat, will face Redmond School Board Chair Michael Summers, a Republican, in that race.

“We’re going to fight like hell to keep Knopp’s seat,” said Bryan Iverson, executive director of the Senate Republicans’ Leadership Fund. “We still think that seat is a viable option for us, just like we think Gorsek’s seat is a viable option for us.”

No Democratic candidates face opposition in the primary, but several Republicans in safe Republican districts do.

Sen. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, faces a four-way primary fight in the 1st Senate District, which includes Curry and parts of Coos and Douglas counties.

Brock Smith served six years in the House before being appointed to the Senate in 2023 to finish the term of Dallas Heard. His opponents are former Roseburg City Councilor Ashley Hicks, frequent candidate Paul Romero and logger Todd Vaughn.

The neighboring 2nd District, which includes Josephine and parts of Douglas and Jackson counties, features Rep. Christine Goodwin, R-Canyonville, and Noah Robinson, son of disqualified Sen. Art Robinson, R-Cave Junction, for the GOP nomination.

A group of Josephine County voters filed, then withdrew, a suit aimed at keeping Goodwin off the ballot on grounds she doesn’t live in the district. Goodwin denies the allegations, but the group has threatened to refile its suit if she prevails in the primary.

The 28th district in Klamath County features a GOP fight between Diane Linthicum, wife of current Sen. Dennis Linthicum, and Klamath County Commissioner Dave Henslee. Dennis Linthicum is disqualified because of his participation in the 2023 walkout and is now running for secretary of state.

Sen. Bill Hansell’s retirement announcement early last year launched a crowded Republican primary in the 29th Senate District, which covers most of northeastern Oregon. Former Morrow County Commissioner Jim Doherty, Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann, Eastern Oregon University student Andy Huwe and Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash are seeking the nomination.

Mike McLane, a former House Republican leader and circuit court judge, is seeking return to the Capitol in the 30th Senate District, which spans most of Eastern Oregon. In the primary, he’ll face Crook County rancher Douglas T Muck Jr. and Baker County resident Robert Neuman, who briefly considered a run for attorney general.

Former Republican lawmaker Bruce Starr, who served four years in the House and 12 in the Senate, is eyeing a comeback in the 12th Senate District. It is now represented by Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas, disqualified for reelection because of the walkout.

Starr will face Scott Hooper, a Democratic farmer from Monmouth, in November.

Most Democratic incumbents face token opposition from Republicans in safely Democratic districts.

Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, D-Beaverton, will face Republican airport ramp servicer Shane Bolton in the 14th Senate District in Washington County.

Sen. Wlnsvey Campos, D-Aloha, has a general election challenge in the 18th Senate District from Brian Pierson, who garnered 30% of the vote as an Independent Party of Oregon candidate in 2018.

Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, will face Army and Marine veteran Michael Saperstein in the general election in the 22nd District.

The primary election is May 21, and only registered Republicans or Democrats can cast ballots in partisan races. Voters must register by April 30 to receive a ballot.


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