New Leaders Emerge from 2011 Session

Here are House members the CFM state affairs team views as emerging leaders based on their performance in the 2011 Oregon legislative session:

  • Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood RiverRep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River.  He was a virtual unknown coming to Salem after beating an incumbent Democratic member last November. His only previous government experience was chairing the Hood River School Board. Almost instantly, Johnson gained respect by legislators and lobbyists for his quick study, hard work and straightforward demeanor. He was a key behind-the-scenes player for the House GOP on education reform legislation. His success has been rewarded by being named co-chair of the interim House Higher Education Committee (just a subcommittee during the session). Many believe Johnson will be a key player on state education policy for years to come.
  • Rep. Val Hoyle, D-EugeneRep. Val Hoyle, D-Eugene.  2011 was Hoyle's first full session after being appointed to the House in late 2009. She is considered likable, smart and always fun to be around. For a new member, she made a big impact on her committees:  Business and Labor, Health Care and Higher Education. Republicans like her because of her business background and reputation as a straight shooter. She is in a safe Democratic seat, so she could serve for a long time. 
  • Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend. He also arrived in Salem after beating an incumbent Democrat in 2010. Although somewhat quiet and measured, Conger quickly established himself as one of smartest minds in the Capitol.  He always asked thought-provoking questions in hearings and made sure lobbyists knew their stuff when meeting to talk legislation. His no-nonsense views were listened to carefully in closed-door GOP caucus meetings, according to several sources.  His district leans heavily Democratic, but most folks are betting he is just as good at campaigning as he is at policymaking.
  • Rep. Chris Garrett, D-Lake Oswego. In his sophomore legislative term, Garrett established himself as an effective legislator by tackling the daunting task of redistricting. Most predicted legislative and congressional redistricting bills could not pass a 30-30 House. But Garrett, working with Rep. Shawn Lindsay (see below), forged a good working relationship resulting in compromise legislation that passed overwhelmingly.   Quiet, confident and smart, Garrett has earned the respect of all in the Capitol.
  • Rep. Shawn Lindsay, R-Hillsboro. When Lindsay was named ch-chair of the House Redistricting Committee on the session's first day, many observers were astonished that GOP House Co-speaker Bruce Hanna would give such a high-profile post to a  freshman member. Those worries evaporated as Lindsay worked effectively with Garrett and others on a negotiated redistricting bill. Many believe that under Lindsay's leadership, the GOP fared much better than if Secretary of State Kate Brown assumed the redistricting task. House Republican leaders recently breathed a sigh of relief when Lindsay decided not to seek the open Congressional seat held by David Wu.
  • Rep. Jefferson Smith, D-Portland.  After his first session in 2009, some questioned whether Smith enjoyed the Salem legislative scene. Those concerns have been put to bed after a solid 2011 session for Smith. He has the brains and charisma to go a long way in Oregon politics. As the "Bus Project" founder, Smith is known for his ability to organize. House Democrats recognize the trait and have turned to him to coordinate development of their caucus' 2012 session policy agenda.
  • Rep. Kevin Cameron, R-Salem. It is hard to say someone is an "emerging" leader when they already are in leadership. But Cameron, the House GOP leader, impressed many in Salem for the way he and Hanna handled a 30-member caucus. The whispers of "Cameron for Congress" are getting louder. But for now, the successful restauranteur has a big task ahead of making sure Republicans don't slip into minority status in 2013.
  • Rep. Ben Cannon, D-Portland. A heap of praise was given to Cannon, a mild-mannered school teacher, for delivering a win by moving significant bottle bill expansion legislation to the governor. Cannon is the environmental community's "go to" legislator, and the one everyone enjoys working with. There were rumors that Cannon would run for Portland City Council, but it appears he is staying put to further his impressive legislative career.