VALE – State Sen. Lynn Findley, a Republican from Vale, announced on Wednesday, Nov. 8, that he would not seek another term in the Senate.
Hours later, Powell Butte resident Mike McLane, a former state representative and Oregon House Republican leader, announced he would run for Findley’s District 30 Senate seat.
Findley didn’t explain his decision.
“I am proud of the work we have done to amplify the voices of constituents, shed light (on) the issues we face in eastern and rural Oregon and tackle some of our biggest challenges,” he said in a written statement.
Findley has been barred from running for reelection by the Oregon secretary of state’s office because of his excessive unexcused absences from the Senate during the 2023 session. Findley, a former Vale city manager and a retired Bureau of Land Management employee, and other senators had been challenging the voter-approved law in a case now before the Oregon Supreme Court. In court filings, attorneys indicated Findley would wait for the court’s ruling before deciding on seeking reelection.
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.
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.
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.
Findley served in the Oregon Legislature from 2018 to 2020 as a state representative for House District 60. In January 2020 he was appointed to the Senate to represent District 30 and elected in November 2020. District 30 includes all of Baker, Crook, Grant, Harney, Lake and Malheur counties and portions of Deschutes & Jefferson counties.
Findley did not immediately return a phone call from the Enterprise seeking comment.
Meanwhile, McLane received endorsements for his campaign from Findley, U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, R-Oregon and U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon.
“I am honored to say that Mike McLane, family man, successful businessman, former state representative, former circuit court judge and now accomplished central Oregon attorney, is a good, true and trusted friend. In my opinion, there is no better person than Mike to be the state senator from Oregon Senate District 30,” said Bentz.
McLane said in a written statement he cares about the “farms, ranches and communities in central and eastern Oregon.”
“If honored to represent you in the Oregon Senate, I will work to ensure the state government invests in our future,” said McLane.
Findley called McLane a “proven leader.”
“As I step away from this role, I am honored to strongly endorse Mike McLane to serve as our next senator for Senate District 30,” said Findley.
After a short stint as Malheur County’s Justice of the Peace from 2012 to 2013, Findley took over as Vale’s city manager in 2013. During his tenure in the state Senate, Findley has served on the influential Joint Ways and Means Committee, among others.
Before being appointed to the state Senate, Findley served on the board of the Malheur County Development Corp., a public corporation established in 2017 tasked with overseeing the construction of the Treasure Valley Reload Center, a shipping center that would allow for farm products to be unloaded from trucks and loaded onto rail cars. The service, Findley and project leaders proclaimed, would be cheaper and faster than trucking, allowing producers to get their product to market sooner and cut costs.
The Oregon Legislature gave Malheur County $26 million in 2017 for the project. With costs ballooning to nearly $40 million in public funds, Findley resigned from the board in October of 2022.
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