Oregon Republican Party chair quits, blaming ‘wickedness’ in the state GOP

Dallas Heard claimed members of the party were using ‘communist psychological warfare tactics’ to derail his leadership

By: - March 9, 2022 3:35 pm

State Sen. Dallas Heard sits in the gallery of the Senate chamber during a legislative special session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Blaming “wickedness within our organization,” Dallas Heard of Roseburg abruptly stepped down as chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.

Heard’s last day is Friday, he said in a letter sent to party members that was shared online. He wrote that unnamed members of the state party were using “communist psychological warfare tactics” to derail his leadership.

“They have broken my spirit,” Heard wrote. “I can face the Democrats with courage and conviction, but I can’t fight my own people.”

Heard, who is also a state senator, didn’t respond Wednesday to a voicemail left at the landscaping business he lists as his campaign number or an email sent to his legislative account. 

His resignation from the party position comes as Republicans strive to improve their numbers in the Legislature and try to capture another Congressional seat. 

Messages to Vice Chairman Herman Baertschiger and the state party office in Salem weren’t returned Wednesday. The Oregon Republican Party central committee is scheduled to meet in Salem March 25 and 26.

Heard told his hometown newspaper, the Roseburg News-Review, that he blamed Solomon Yue, who has been Oregon’s Republican National committeeman for the past 22 years. His complaints echoed a letter then-Oregon GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan, who is now running  for governor, sent to the Republican National Committee in 2010.

At the time, Tiernan accused Yue of “spreading hate and discontent within Republican politics for some time – both in Oregon and inside the RNC.” He said Yue frequently referred to lessons he learned from the Chinese Communist Party about using lies and smear tactics to distort reality and achieve political aims. 

Tiernan didn’t respond to a voicemail Wednesday. A publicly available phone number and email address for Yue had both been disconnected. 

In his letter to party leaders, Heard wrote that Republicans must focus on winning elections and beating the “godless left,” but that they can’t ignore the “wickedness” in their own organization. 

“I hope you find a way to purge this darkness from the ORP and I will be praying for your success and protection,” he wrote. He didn’t elaborate.

Carla “KC” Hanson, chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, called Heard’s decision to step down just two months before the May primary “stunning.” She takes it as a sign that the Republican Party isn’t on track in Oregon. 

“It’s just indicative of how far away so many of the Republican leaders are from their Republican base,” she said. “There’s a ton of good, hard-working Republican voters out there, and they’ve been fed this line by their party forever of how evil the Democrats are, and how Republicans are going to save the day for them, and that just ain’t the case.” 

Oregon’s House and Senate Republican caucuses run their own political action committees and recruit and fundraise for Republican legislative candidates separately from the state party. House Republicans last year unanimously condemned a statement from the state party that called the violent protest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a “false flag.”

Heard was not chairman at the time. He spent Jan. 6 leading a related protest outside the Oregon Capitol. 

He skipped every vote in the Senate this year, though he still participated in virtual committee meetings. Over the past two years, Heard staged four separate protests over the Senate’s mask policy: dramatically ripping his mask from his face in 2020, walking onto the floor without one in 2021 until Senate President Peter Courtney asked him to leave, doing the same in early February while gesturing to an enlarged photo of a maskless Courtney he propped on an easel behind his desk and removing his mask again in late February.

The last time, senators voted along party lines to remove Heard from the chamber and bar him from returning to the Capitol until he dons a mask or the rules change. He did not return, and the Capitol mask rules will expire along with the statewide mask mandate for most indoor public places next week. 

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.