Oregon Democrats Take Charge

Democratic Party wins big in Oregon,  continues liberal platform

Lane County Commissioner-elect Heather Buch says her 5-year-old daughter wants to run for president. 

“She says she’s going to be the next president all the time,” Buch says, adding that she recorded her daughter filming a campaign video in the backyard. 

The presidential ambitions are most likely from seeing Buch run for the commissioner position, she adds, because children repeat what they see their parents do. 

And that’s what Buch wants. 

Buch is one of many women elected to office in 2018. She hopes more women will not only run for office in future but also run candidate campaigns. 

The Democratic Party “blue wave” didn’t really overtake the U.S. — beyond taking back the House — but it sure hit Oregon. The Oregon midterm elections brought a change in leadership at the technically nonpartisan Lane County Board of Commissioners as well as at state level, cementing the Democratic Party platform throughout most of the state. 

Marty Wilde will succeed outgoing state Rep. Phil Barnhart.  

Barnhart says he was impressed with how well Wilde did in winning the district, adding that Wilde did even better than he himself did in 2016. 

“His understanding on the issues are very good for someone who’s never served before,” Barnhart says. “He already knows the big pieces already. He’ll hit the ground running.” 

Wilde says his win is about continuing an investment in Oregon’s future. 

“It’s not about me. It’s the value we share as Oregonians. We care about each other and want the best for our future and that means investing in our people,” he says. “Health care, education and housing are the things people told me about, and that’s what I hope to work on in the Legislature.”

With the Democratic Party’s supermajority in both the House and Senate and Gov. Kate Brown’s re-election, Oregon can go forward with the Clean Energy Jobs bill.  

Brad Reed, communications director for Renew Oregon, an advocate group comprised of businesses and organizations, says they weren’t too concerned with the revenue aspect of Clean Energy Jobs bill. He says there is precedent in California establishing that a cap and invest policy isn’t a tax. 

Reed adds that the Democrats’ supermajority means Oregonians are concerned about climate change, especially since some candidates ran on platforms that prioritized bold climate action. 

A “blue wave” in Oregon wasn’t limited to Salem. Buch’s win gives the Lane County Board of Commissioners a more progressive slant, seeing that the Democratic Party of Lane County (DPLC) endorsed Pete Sorenson, Buch and Joe Berney. 

This could mean that Sorenson will be elected as board chair. Jay Bozievich is currently the chair, and outgoing Commissioner Sid Leiken is the vice-chair. 

Buch’s win over former Cottage Grove Mayor Gary Williams brought out a loud chant from her supporters at a DPLC watch party, showing the same excitement for a nonpartisan commissioner race as when Berney defeated Commissioner Sid Leiken in May. 

Buch says she was elected because she represents more of what people want their leader to be. Her win also brings in a fresh perspective to the Board of Commissioners.  

“We need women at all levels,” she says. “Diversity matters. It matters in a big way to make sure we’re really serving everybody in our community.” 

In the House of Representatives, Oregon Democrats picked up three seats and now have 38 seats in the lower chamber. In the Senate, Democrats gained one seat, giving them a supermajority there as well.  

Democrats had a 79.8 percent statewide turnout for the midterm, while Republicans — considerably outnumbered in the state — had a 79.6 percent turnout. — Henry Houston

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