In Short

Oregon state Sen. Dallas Heard will resign Jan. 1

By: - December 15, 2022 5:05 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)

Dallas Heard, a state senator who was temporarily barred from the Senate for his refusal to wear a mask and abruptly quit his post as chairman of the Oregon Republican Party earlier this year, is resigning from the Senate.

Heard announced his decision to retire effective Jan. 1 in a one-sentence letter on Thursday. In a subsequent statement provided by the Senate Republican caucus, Heard said his family needs his undivided attention.

“I have wrestled with this decision for the past several months,” he said. “In the end, I decided that until my sons are several years older, they must be my full focus and priority.”

Heard was appointed to the Senate in 2018 after former Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, resigned under pressure from sexual harasment allegations. His current term ends in 2025, meaning local Republican leaders will nominate potential replacements to serve the remaining two years of his term early in the new year and county commissioners will appoint a replacement. Heard’s 1st Senate District includes portions of Curry, Coos and Douglas counties. 

Heard had been the Oregon Legislature’s most outspoken opponent of COVID safety measures. He staged four separate protests over the Senate’s mask mandates in 2020 and 2021, dramatically ripping off his mask in one. Senate Democrats voted to bar him from returning to the chamber without a mask after the last protest in February. 

On Jan. 6, 2021, Heard led a protest outside the Oregon Capitol, telling right-wing demonstrators that the Capitol was occupied by “fools.” He was elected chairman of the Oregon Republican Party a month later, and he held that post for just more than a year before resigning in March. 

At the time, Heard blamed “wickedness” in the Oregon GOP for causing him to leave. 

“They have broken my spirit,” Heard said in a letter to Oregon Republican Party members. “I can face the Democrats with courage and conviction, but I can’t fight my own people.”

He hit similar notes in his letter explaining his resignation from the Senate. 

“The country as a whole has seen an ever-growing movement of evil rising that is determined to take our children’s hearts and minds away from their parents,” Heard wrote. “I hope to see in the near future a new generation of freedom-loving men and women rise and run for elected positions such as school boards and the legislature.”

He urged conservatives to vote, saying they’re losing because they don’t care. Oregon Republicans turned out at higher rates than Democrats or non-affiliated voters in the most recent general election, but Democrats and non-affiliated voters who support Democratic candidates outnumber Republicans. 

Heard said in his letter he hopes to run for office again after his children are older. He didn’t return emails from the Capital Chronicle to his campaign or legislative emails. 

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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.