VALE – Five Republican state senators announced last week they intend to run for re-election next year but one local politician wasn’t on the list.
State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, did not add his name to the list of colleagues who plan to be in the mix for reelection.
In an email to the Malheur Enterprise last week, Findley said he has not decided whether to seek another term.
“Until September there is no decision to be made,” he wrote in the email.
The first day a candidate can file for the 2024 election is Sept. 14.
Findley, the former Vale city manager and a retired Bureau of Land Management employee, was appointed to be a state representative in 2018 to replace Cliff Bentz. He was then appointed to the Senate in 2020 and won election to the slot in November of 2020. Findley’s senate district includes Baker, Crook, Grant, Harney, Lake and Malheur counties and portions of Deschutes and Jefferson counties. The legislators who announced they will run for reelection are Sen. David Brook Smith, R-Port Orford; Sen. Dick Anderson, R-Lincoln City; Sen. Fred Girod, R-Lyons; Sen. Tim Knopp, R- Bend and Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls.
Another key Republican senator, Bill Hansell of Athena, announced earlier this year he plans to retire.
Normally such early re-election announcements create little attention but the political terrain this year is different because of a ballot measure passed by voters in 2022. Measure 113 stipulated any legislator with at least 10 absences from a legislative floor session would be prevented from running for another term.
During the 2023 Legislature, nine GOP senators and one independent, ducked out of the Senate in a bid to block a series of Democratically-sponsored bills they disagreed with. In Oregon two-thirds of the members of the Senate must be in their seats to constitute a quorum for votes on legislation. With no quorum, bills stall.
The GOP walkout lasted six weeks, ending just before the required adjournment of the legislative session.
Ballot Measure 113 may restrict Knopp, Findley and Linthicum from running for re-election as all three piled up more than 10 unexcused absences during the walk out.
Findley participated in the walkout, he said, because he would not support passage of legislation that did not meet an obscure state law from the 1970s that required that a summary of a bill must be written in language that an eighth grader can understand.
In a note to his constituents, in May, Findley said his “oath to uphold the constitution is more important to me than being re-elected.”
The Republican caucus, however, contends the measure wasn’t written clearly and may not prevent senators from running again. That’s because the language of the constitutional amendment stipulates legislators with at least 10 unexcused absences cannot hold office “for the term following the election after the members’ current term is completed.”
Yet elections in Oregon are held before the term of a legislator is finished. GOP supporters say that means the constitution grants them the flexibility to serve another term before they must step down because of unexcused absences.
In May, an attorney representing the Republicans asked Oregon Secretary of State’s office to decide on the matter.
Last week Knopp and Linthicum sent a letter to Secretary of State La Vonne Griffin-Valade, and asked whether the two legislators could get on the ballot. No decision from Griffin-Valade has been issued.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].
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