Despite the possibility of disqualification, state senators from Oregon who had at least 10 documented absences from the Legislature have filed their campaign papers.
Voters in Oregon supported Measure 113, a constitutional amendment, after the Republicans staged record-breaking walkouts in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Legislators who skipped 10 or more legislative floor sessions without a justification or authorization are ineligible to run for reelection. In addition to one independent candidate, nine Oregon Republicans who missed 10 votes during this year’s session have now reapplied.
Republicans have staged walkouts in recent years, and not just in Oregon, to oppose Democratic measures on a variety of issues, such as transgender health care, abortion rights, and gun rights. Due to this, there was no quorum, which is required for a deliberative assembly to operate according to its rules. Tennessee and Montana state capitols have also been impacted.
According to LaVonne Griffin-Valade, secretary of state for Oregon, “it is clear voters intended Measure 113 to disqualify legislators from running for reelection if they had 10 or more unexcused absences in a legislative session.” “By enforcing the measure as it was widely accepted when Oregonians added it to our state constitution, my decision honors the voters’ intent,” the judge wrote.
According to the Associated Press, GOP Senate leader Tim Knopp paid the $25 filing fee at the Salem election offices early on Thursday and turned in a candidate filing form for the 2024 primary election. Sens. Art Robinson and Dennis Linthicum also filed, having each taken more absences than allowed.
All three have asserted that because of the way the amendment is drafted, they are each free to run for re-election. Ten or more excused absences, according to Measure 113, “shall disqualify the member from holding office as a Senator or Representative for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.”
In the state of Washington’s northwest, five Republican senators want to hasten the legal action in this situation. If it is effective, state officials might be compelled to give them another chance at reelection. After lawmakers and Griffin-Valade filed a combined motion asking that the case go directly to the Oregon Supreme Court, which would expedite the process, this might go all the way to the Supreme Court.
According to a joint motion submitted in August, “Immediate review by the Supreme Court is the only effective way to resolve this dispute in a timely manner.” Daniel Bonham, Lynn Findley, Knopp, Linthicum, and Robinson all filed the motion.
“Petitioners and other legislators in a similar situation need to know if they can file for re-election and serve if elected; the Secretary needs to know if those legislators must be listed on the ballot; other potential candidates need to know if incumbent legislators are running for re-election; and Oregon voters have a great interest in the correct construction of a constitutional amendment that would allow for this.”