Breese-Iverson stepping down as Oregon House GOP leader
Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, talks with House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, at her desk on the House floor on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. (Ron Cooper/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson is stepping down as leader of the Republican caucus after almost two years.
Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, announced her resignation Thursday, a few days before lawmakers return to the Capitol for the first time since the legislative session ended in June. She didn’t immediately return a call about the decision, but said in a statement that she planned to remain in the House and focus more on her constituents in central Oregon.
“Make no mistake, I am not departing politics, only looking toward the next opportunity to serve and bring more balance to Oregon,” Breese-Iverson said. “I am confident my colleagues will choose a leader who will put the Republican House Caucus above their own personal ambitions as I believe I have done.”
Breese-Iverson has served in the House since 2019, when she was appointed to replace Rep. Mike McLane following his appointment as a circuit court judge. She’s been the leader of the House Republican caucus since November 2021, after former leader Christine Drazan stepped down to focus on her unsuccessful run for governor.
The Republican caucus grew under Breese-Iverson’s leadership, picking up three new representatives in districts formerly held by Democrats. Republicans now hold 25 of the 60 seats in the House.
Breese-Iverson also built a stronger working relationship with Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, than Drazan had with former Speaker Tina Kotek, now the Oregon governor. While Senate Republicans walked out for six weeks, House Republicans stayed in Salem, and Breese-Iverson negotiated with Rayfield and other Democrats to ensure Republicans had time to debate bills without halting the legislative session.
Rayfield said in June that he enjoyed working with Breese-Iverson and looked forward to working with her more.
“Leader Breese-Iverson and I will disagree on many things, don’t get me wrong, but I feel we were able to work together,” he said. “She was wonderful to work with, and we found a lot of common alignment on things.”
Breese-Iverson was criticized by some Republicans for not joining Senate Republicans on their six-week walkout over abortion and gun bills that had already passed in the House. Two other members of the House Republican leadership team, Reps. Shelly Boshart Davis of Albany and E. Werner Reschke of Klamath Falls, abruptly quit their positions before an amended version of the abortion bill came up for another House vote in late June, and about half the House Republican caucus stayed away from the Capitol to protest that vote.
The House’s longest-serving member, Rep. Greg Smith, said in a statement that the next Republican leader has big shoes to fill.
“I have known her for many years and respect not only her leadership in our caucus but how she conducts her life,” said Smith, R-Heppner. “I am a fan and sad to see her leave as leader quite frankly, but happy I still get to serve with her every day.”
Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend, said Breese-Iverson is instrumental to Republicans winning in Oregon.
“She has and will be an incredible asset to rural Oregon and helping us achieve a better balance in Salem,” Knopp said. “I look forward to her next move.”
Three statewide positions – secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general – are up for election next year. The state Senate district where Breese-Iverson lives may also be open: current Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, is one of 10 Republican senators disqualified from another term under a voter-approved state law meant to discourage senators from walking out. Findley and several other senators, including Knopp, have sued over that law and are seeking an order from the state Supreme Court allowing them to run for reelection.
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