Candidate filing day produced one clear conclusion — the political battles in Oregon this year will center on House and Senate races key to determining which party is in control when the 2013 legislature convenes. The House is split 30-30 and Democrats narrowly control the Senate 16-14.
Republicans failed to field a candidate for state treasurer or attorney general, even though the latter will be an open seat. Republican Bruce Starr is challenging Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, a Democrat, but it is a non-partisan post.
Republicans and Democrats see the battle for control of the House through different lenses. Rep. Kevin Cameron, R-Salem, told The Oregonian, "I want to avoid the one-party situation in the future so at least there's a healthy balance in the policy coming out of this building."
Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said, "Democrats were blocked from passing stronger consumer legislation and from more closely scrutinizing tax breaks that take away money for services. We are going to get a lot of national attention... Oregon is one of the most likely legislative chambers in the country to shift to Democratic control."
Retirements could play a significant role in tipping the partisan balance in both the House and Senate. Two GOP senators are calling it quits — Jason Atkinson, R-Central Point, and Dave Nelson, R-Pendleton. Both seats tilt heavily Republican. However, the Senate seat held by retiring Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, could prove pivotal.
House Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, is running for the seat against Scott Roberts, a Coos Bay physician. Roblan beat Roberts in 2010 in a House race. If Roblan wins again, the seat will remain in the Democratic column and it may be difficult for Republicans to control, or even earn a 15-15 split.