2022 Oregon Post-Election Report

Date: November 28, 2022

From NFIB State Director Anthony Smith

With projected winners declared in every legislative race in Oregon, we now have a better picture of what things will look like politically in Oregon – and across the country – for the next two years.

Governor’s Race

Republicans had high hopes for their nominee for governor, Christine Drazan, a former House Republican Leader (endorsed by the NFIB OR PAC). In a historic race that featured three prominent, well-funded women running for governor, the outcome proved to be anticlimactic. Democrat Tina Kotek claimed victory with 47% of the vote. Coming in second was Drazan with 43.5%, and third, Betsy Johnson with just under 9%. Combined, minor party candidates and write-ins received less than 1% of the total vote.

Much analysis is likely to come in the future concerning Betsy Johnson’s impact on this election. She was never able to consistently poll above 20% during the campaign and was always a longshot to win, but she clearly was able to siphon votes from a significant number of Democrats and Republicans. Which of her major party opponents did she hurt more? That’s what the historians will have to sort out, but while Drazan outperformed her fellow Republican nominees in their races against current Governor Kate Brown, she wasn’t able to get as close to winning as Chris Dudley did in 2010, when he came within 1.5% of upsetting former Governor John Kitzhaber. Reputable polling showed Drazan with a slight lead during the campaign up until the very end, when Kotek was able to rally Democrat voters back to her team as voting commenced. In the end, Oregon was left with a very familiar outcome – a competitive, expensive race for governor where the Republican came close, but the Democrat prevailed.

Considering the amount of attention and excitement surrounding the governor’s race this year, some Republican voters might be finding it difficult to celebrate on the heels of a Kotek win, and even though the “Red Wave” didn’t materialize in the way they were hoping for, Republicans in Oregon made some very impactful gains that are sure to bring balance and bipartisanship to Salem and Washington, D.C.

U.S. House of Representatives

After four years being in the minority and two years of single-party control in our nation’s capital, Republicans retook the House. They will have a very narrow majority – and Oregon’s doubling of the number of Republican members of Congress helped make that happen. NFIB’s FedPac endorsed four federal candidates in Oregon this year, with two winning: Congressman Cliff Bentz (OR-02) was easily reelected and NFIB-member Lori Chavez-DeRemer successfully flipped Oregon’s fifth congressional district, after Democrats chose to oust longtime Congressman Kurt Scharder in the primary earlier this year, making this district an open seat.

Oregon State Legislature

Republicans also made significant gains in the Oregon Legislature, flipping one seat in the Senate and two seats in the House. These might seem like small numbers, but their implications cannot be overstated. For the last four years, Democrats have enjoyed supermajorities in both chambers, which allowed them to pass any bill without a single Republican vote, including bills to raise taxes (like the Corporate Activity Tax in 2019). With these key losses, Democrats will still control the legislative process, but they won’t be able to raise taxes on a party line vote going forward, and their ability to pass controversial legislation will be diminished if their caucus members aren’t fully united in support for those bills.

It looks like the Oregon Senate will consist of 17 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 1 Independent (Sen. Brian Boquist, who was last elected in 2020 as a Republican.) The Oregon House of Representatives will have 35 Democrats and 25 Republicans, assuming projected winners don’t change between now and when Secretary of State Shemia Fagan certifies the election on December 15, 2022.

The NFIB OR PAC endorsed 44 candidates this year. Twenty-eight of those candidates are projected to win their races, including 10 NFIB members! And while we’re disappointed that some of them came up short, we look forward to welcoming new legislators to Salem next year and giving them the opportunity work with us on the important challenges that Oregon’s small businesses are experiencing right now, like soaring inflation, supply-chain disruptions, and a severe labor shortage – all on the heels of a very stubborn pandemic that has indefinitely changed the way we do business.

Every new legislature, and each individual lawmaker, regardless of party affiliation, can choose to make small businesses a top priority. It’s no secret that hasn’t happened in Oregon in recent years, but our state now finds itself needing small businesses to succeed like never before. It’s NFIB’s job to remind them of that.

 

 

 

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