Democratic Bend City Councilor Anthony Broadman is running for state Senate in a district now represented by Republican leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend. (Broadman campaign)
Bend City Councilor Anthony Broadman is running for state Senate in what will likely be one of the most-watched races in Oregon.
Broadman, a Democrat and attorney for tribal governments, announced his candidacy Monday for central Oregon’s 27th Senate District, now represented by Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend. His run was first reported by The Bulletin, Bend’s daily newspaper.
Knopp and four other Republican senators are suing to be able to run for reelection after they ran afoul of a voter-approved state law intended to dissuade lawmakers from shutting down the Legislature. Knopp led his party on a six-week protest over bills on abortion, transgender health care and guns, and 10 conservative senators racked up enough absences that they’re barred from another term under a constitutional amendment approved last year.
“Central Oregon is and should be a bigger leader in this state,” Broadman told the Capital Chronicle. “Our senator has walked out, walked out on the process, walked out on democracy, walked out on us.”
Broadman, who was elected to the Bend City Council in 2020, said the region and its “pragmatic progress-focused solutions” can serve as an example for the rest of the state.
Progressives have dominated city politics since 2020, but Deschutes County government remains under Republican control. Broadman, the son of a Democratic public school teacher and a Reagan Republican, said he grew up knowing that there wasn’t room for ideology or partisanship at the family dinner table, and he brought that same approach to his work on the city council.
That included working with Deschutes County to establish a civilian response program for mental health emergency calls without involving police or sheriff’s deputies, freeing police to spend more time patrolling streets and investigating crimes.
He also advocated for changing Bend’s hotel tax distribution to send more money to facilities used by tourists and locals alike instead of just promoting tourism. And he spearheaded a push to include dedicated affordable housing for residents including teachers in an area of southeast Bend.
“I think Central Oregon can serve as a laboratory for a lot of the solutions that work,” Broadman said.
Broadman has close to $33,000 in a campaign fundraising account set up for his 2020 run for the Bend City Council. This summer, he received a $10,000 contribution from his wife, pediatrician Kate Broadman; $7,500 from Worthy Brewing owner Roger Worthington and $500 from Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler, according to campaign finance records filed with the secretary of state.
The district is a top target for Democrats regardless of whether Knopp prevails in his court case and is able to run for reelection. Bend and Redmond have trended more Democratic in the past several years, and the district’s geographic boundaries shrank following redistricting in 2020, losing some of its more conservative rural areas.
It now has nearly 10,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, though non-affiliated voters make up the largest bloc. Democratic candidates captured about 55% of the vote share in recent elections, according to data compiled by Dave’s Redistricting App.
“It just feels like this is the right year for that district to flip,” said Oliver Muggli, executive director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund. “We’ve seen it getting bluer and bluer. We got pretty close four years ago.”
In 2020, Knopp narrowly beat retired Daimler Trucks executive Eileen Kiely in what turned out to be one of the most expensive legislative races in the state.
The Senate Democratic caucus’s political action committee and official Democratic groups won’t back specific candidates until after the May primary. Broadman has already lined up support from many local leaders, including Democratic state Reps. Emerson Levy and Jason Kropf and four Bend mayors.
Knopp did not return a call.
Candidates can’t begin filing for office until Sept. 14, but several challengers have already announced campaigns and begun raising money.
State Rep. Khanh Pham, D-Portland, plans to run for Senate in the district now held by retiring Portland Democrat Michael Dembrow. Portland public defender Willy Chotzen, also a Democrat, intends to run for Pham’s House seat.
Four Republicans – former Morrow County Commissioner Jim Doherty, Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash, Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann and Andy Huwe, a political activist from Wallowa County – are running to replace retiring state Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena.
And Drew Layda, a Republican who lost the 2022 primary to freshman Rep. Brian Stout, R-Columbia City, is preparing another run. Stout has been barred from serving on committees and has been under pressure to resign because he’s the subject of a restraining order from a former campaign volunteer who alleged that he sexually assaulted her and threatened her life.
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