Handicapping the State Legislative Races

Republicans likley will pick up some House seats, but not enough to overturn the balance of power.While the drama in Washington, D.C., is focused on whether Republicans can make the necessary gains to capture control of Congress, here in Oregon, the question is focused on whether the GOP can break the Democrat’s “supermajority” control.

A supermajority allows the controlling party to run the chamber at will, with little need for minority assistance to pass bills.  In Oregon, this is particularly important because the state’s constitution requires a three-fifths majority vote to raise taxes.

We remain convinced that Democrats will win enough seats to keep control of the Oregon Senate and House (current margins are 18-12 in the Senate and 36-24 in the House). 

It is no secret that GOP leaders and the business lobby have given up hope of capturing the legislature.  Republicans should pick up some Democratic seats, but they’re also spending time and money trying to hold on to some of their own, such as those held by Sen. Bruce Starr, Sen. Frank Morse, Rep. Jim Weidner and Rep. Scott Bruun (Julie Parrish is defending the seat while Bruun is now focused on Congress).

Republicans' best chances to pick up new seats are in districts currently held by Reps. Judy Stiegler, Suzanne VanOrman, Nick Kahl, Brent Barton, David Edwards and Chuck Riley (although the Barton, Edwards and Riley seats are open).  However, the numbers game doesn’t get Republicans to majority control.

In our view the “best” the GOP can do it to get to 14 seats in the Senate and 30 in the House, but that assumes there is a big Republican tide change November 2.

Predictions can be dangerous… But don’t be surprised if Democrats control the legislature next session by margins of 17-13 in the Senate and 32-28 in the House.