Election 2016 preview

By Darrell W. Fuller

The results of the 2016 elections could mark a significant shift in Oregon politics at the state level. While Oregon will likely continue to be a dependably Democratically dominated state, there will be significant turn over in leadership positions.

At the top, we will have a new Governor.  Sort of.  While it seems a long time ago, just two years ago we elected Dr. John Kitzhaber to an historic third term as Governor. (Governors can only serve two consecutive terms.  Governor Kitzhaber was the first in Oregon history to return after two terms to run and win again.)  But Kitzhaber resigned in disgrace just weeks after taking the oath of office and Secretary of State Kate Brown became Oregon’s unelected Governor.  Now, she is running to complete the remaining two years of Kitzhaber’s term.  Two Republicans (Dr. Bud Pierce and Allen Alley) are vying for the chance to run against her in November.  And, since this campaign is for only the remaining two years of Kitzhaber’s term, we will have another gubernatorial election two years from now.  That means Oregon will have three gubernatorial elections in six years.  Unprecedented.  

Since the Secretary of State (Kate Brown) became Governor, we got a newly appointed Secretary of State.  Appointed by newly appointed Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins is not running for a four-year stint, so we will have a new Secretary of State. Three Democrats (Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Senator Richard Devlin and State Rep. Val Hoyle) and two Republicans (former State Rep. Dennis Richardson and Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken) are competing for this job.

If Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian wins, the Governor will appoint someone to replace him.  If Senator Devlin wins, the Governor will appoint someone to replace him.  

In the Oregon Legislature, we have an unusually large number of lawmakers leaving to retire or seek other positions. Even if Democrats replace Democrats and Republicans replace Republicans, the newly elected lawmakers will be inexperienced and others will move up the leadership ladder, creating new committee chairs and changing the landscape at the Capitol.

After the Primary Election in May, this page will be updated with the races to watch in November, 2016.