In Short

Oregon state Sen. Chuck Thomsen to retire, clearing way for Rep. Daniel Bonham

By: - November 11, 2021 3:12 pm

State Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, speaks during a legislative special session on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

State Sen. Chuck Thomsen, a Republican from Hood River, will end his decade-long legislative career next year, clearing the way for a younger Republican to seek his redrawn Senate seat. 

Thomsen and state Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, announced their plans in a joint statement Wednesday. They said they would campaign together for Bonham to succeed Thomsen. Other state representatives from the area were listed as supporting Bonham’s move, including House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, and Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River.

“Daniel Bonham is a good man and a committed public servant,” Thomsen said in the statement. “I’m happy he wants to do this, and I will be supporting him.”

Thomsen, a pear farmer? was elected in 2010, after 16 years as a Hood River county commissioner. In 2020, he survived a recall attempt brought by progressive voters over his choice to walk out with fellow Republicans in the Senate to block Democrats from voting on climate change legislation. 

Progressives targeted Thomsen for the recall because his district had more registered Democrats than Republicans. After the Legislature drew new legislative boundaries this fall in response to updated census counts, Thomsen’s  Senate district is more rural and friendlier to Republicans, based on voter registrations

On the other hand, Bonham would face a stiff challenge if he ran for re-election in his redrawn House district. State  Rep. Anna Williams, D-Hood River, also lives in the new district, and it’s significantly friendlier to Democrats.

Bonham, who owns a stove and spa shop, has served in the House since 2017, when he was appointed to fill a vacancy created when his predecessor took a job in the Trump administration. 

Thomsen joins a growing list of Oregon legislators who have opted not to run for re-election or ended their terms early. So far this year, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, and Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, have announced that they won’t run for re-election.

Sens. Chuck Riley, D-Hillsboro, and Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, and Reps. Bill Post, R-Keizer and Brian Clem, D-Salem, all resigned. And House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland and Sen. Betsy Johnson, an independent from Scappoose, are running for governor instead of another term in the Legislature.

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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.