A sign for the Oregon Senate chamber in the Oregon State Capitol. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)
A national group that tries to elect down-ballot Republicans on Wednesday named Oregon one of its top targets for flipping a state legislative chamber.
The Republican State Leadership Committee in March listed Oregon as one of several liberal strongholds where it would be possible for GOP candidates to make “meaningful gains.” On Wednesday, less than a week after the national group released an internal poll showing Oregon Republicans leading on generic legislative ballots, the committee added Oregon to its list of Democratic-controlled legislatures where Republicans could seize power after the 2022 election. Generic ballots only list parties – not candidates.
Colorado, Maine, Nevada and Washington are also on the list, as is the state House in Minnesota. Republicans already control the Minnesota Senate.
Committee spokesman Zach Kraft said the Oregon Senate is a better pickup opportunity than the House, but the committee will target both chambers. Democrats now hold 37 of 60 seats in the House and 18 of 30 in the Senate.
The committee’s interest means additional spending on Oregon legislative races. The committee already gave $140,000 each to caucus political action committees for House and Senate Republicans, according to state campaign finance records.
In June, the group gave $2,500 each to incumbent GOP Sens. Bill Kennemer of Oregon City and Kim Thatcher of Keizer, as well as Senate candidates Rep. Raquel Moore-Green of Salem, Sherwood real estate broker John Velez and Medford Mayor Randy Sparacino. House candidates Cyrus Javadi, a Tigard dentist; T.J. Sullivan, a Salem insurance broker; and Adam Baker, a Gresham police officer also received $2,500 contributions.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, previously chaired by the Democratic nominee for governor Tina Kotek, has not yet spent any money on Oregon races. In the 2020 election cycle, the group gave $5,000 to the House Democrats’ political action committee and accepted $20,000 from Kotek and the Oregon Health Care Association PAC.
Democrats have controlled both chambers of the Legislature since 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said the Democratic Legislative campaign committee gave money to Tina Kotek’s campaign and a health care PAC. It received money from the two groups.
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