Update: A previous version of this story stated that Democrats had an advantage in both the congressional and legislative district committees. Democrats had a majority on the congressional district committee but there was an even split of Democrats and Republicans on the legislative district committee. Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) sided with Democrats to pass the map.
SALEM – In a rush to beat an end of day deadline, Oregon lawmakers passed new congressional and legislative maps Monday afternoon that Gov. Kate Brown subsequently signed into law later that day.
The new maps, which are expected to be challenged by Republicans in court, place Keizer in different congressional and legislative districts for the next decade.
It was unclear early Monday if lawmakers would even make the deadline after House Republicans boycotted Saturday’s House session, denying Democrats the quorum needed to pass the redistricted maps. If lawmakers hadn’t passed new maps Monday, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, who is a Democrat, would have been given sole power to draw the legislative maps.
“Many of us (Republicans) are only here because we don’t trust the secretary of state to draw these maps,” said Rep. Suzanne Weber, R-Tillamook.
The congressional maps passed Monday place Keizer in the new 6th Congressional District, which Oregon gained after a population increase in this year’s census. Keizer’s new congressional district is expected to have a much larger Democratic lean than their previous 5th Congressional District, according to PlanScore, a website that measures partisan gerrymandering.
It is unclear if Keizer’s current congressional Rep. Kurt Schrader plans to run in the 5th or the 6th District. Re-election for Schrader would be difficult in both districts, with potential to lose in a primary in the more liberal sixth district or in the general election in the highly competitive fifth district. As of press time, a spokesperson for Schrader said no decisions have been made.
Keizer will also switch from District 25 to District 21 in the House, which no longer encompasses cities such as St. Paul and Newberg. House District 21 instead encompasses a larger portion of north and east Salem. District 25 incumbent Rep. Bill Post announced earlier this month that he would not be seeking re-election.
While legislative maps were seen as being more bipartisan than the congressional maps, that doesn’t appear to be the case for Keizer’s new House district.
“I don’t know who thought putting Salem and Keizer together is a great idea because they actually hate each other FYI,” said Salem area Rep. Brian Clem during a speech on the House floor. He also announced during his speech that he would not be seeking re-election.
In the Oregon Senate, Keizer will move from District 13 to District 11. Keizer’s new Senate district won’t go as far north and also encompasses parts of Gervais and Woodburn. District 13 incumbent Senator Kim Thatcher did not respond by press time to an email inquiry asking what district she planned to run in if she sought re-election.
Thatcher and Post both had excused absences from Monday’s floor session.
Republicans boycotted Saturday’s session, and continued to express upset during Monday’s session, after House Speaker Tina Kotek reneged on a deal that gave Republicans equal representation in the House Redistricting Committee in exchange for them ending delay tactics with other bills.
After Republicans refused to pass Democrats’ maps through the redistricting committee onto the House floor, Kotek announced on Sept. 20 that she would be creating two new committees.
The new committees gave Democrats a two to one advantage in the congressional district committee and an even split of Democrats and Republicans in the legislative district committee. Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) sided with Democrats to pass the legislative map with a 5-3 vote.
Both congressional and legislative maps passed both the House and Senate on Monday in near party line votes.
News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.