The House District 44 seat Tina Kotek is vacating in north and northeast Portland will be filled by appointment of Multnomah County commissioners.
It will be the ninth time this cycle, going back to the 2020 election, that a legislative seat has been filled by an interim appointee.
The process starts upon Kotek’s resignation Jan. 21. Kotek is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in the May 17 primary. Resigning ahead of the 2022 session, which is scheduled to start Feb. 1, will enable her to raise campaign funds. A House rule bars lawmakers from raising campaign money during sessions.
Kotek has been in the House since 2007.
The timing of Kotek’s resignation will allow someone to take the seat for part of the 2022 session, which is limited to 35 days. Assuming a Feb. 1 start, the session will end no later than March 7.
State law requires her successor to be a Democrat, because she was elected as a Democrat. Democratic precinct people from within District 44 will nominate three, four or five candidates. All candidates must have lived within the current district boundaries for at least one year, and been registered Democrats for at least 180 days. They also cannot be in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections.
The Democratic Party of Oregon supervises the process. Normally the nomination meeting is in person, but because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, party officials can choose alternate methods such as mail ballots or virtual meetings.
The candidates also can be ranked in order of preference, although the order is not binding.
The actual appointment is made by Multnomah County commissioners because the district is entirely within the county. They must choose from the nominees supplied by the party, or they can choose no one. They cannot appoint someone else.
If the process is not completed within 30 days after the seat becomes vacant, Gov. Kate Brown is empowered by law to appoint any Democrat who qualifies within the district. Unlike the county commissioners, she would not be limited to the list of nominees.
Although that hasn’t happened recently, Gov. John Kitzhaber invoked that authority twice during his first two terms as governor.
In 1997, after Sen. Bill Kennemer of Oregon City was elected as a Clackamas County commissioner, the then-three member county board declined to appoint any of the nominees Republicans put forward for the Senate seat. Kitzhaber appointed Verne Duncan of Milwaukie, a former state schools superintendent and Idaho legislator, who ended up serving six years after Duncan won a full term in 1998.
In 2001, after Sen. Lee Beyer of Springfield was appointed to the Public Utility Commission and Rep. Bill Morrisette of Springfield was appointed to Beyer’s seat, Lane County commissioners balked at the nominees Democrats put forward for Morrisette’s House seat. Kitzhaber appointed Terry Beyer, Lee Beyer’s wife, who ended up serving through 2010. Morrisette retired from the Senate that same year, and Lee Beyer ran for and won the Senate seat again.
Kotek’s seat will be the ninth filled by appointment under state law since the 2020 election — an unusually high number.
The others in chronological order, with the appointee listed first:
• Andrea Valderrama of Portland, a Democrat who succeeded Diego Hernandez in House District 47 in East Portland. Hernandez resigned, effective March 15, 2021, ahead of a scheduled expulsion vote after a House committee concluded he committed 18 violations of a rule against sexual harassment. He was in his third term. She took the seat on April 1.
• Anna Scharf of Amity, a Republican who succeeded Mike Nearman in House District 23 in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Nearman became the first sitting legislator expelled on June 10 in connection with his allowing anti-lockdown demonstrators, some of them armed, to enter a closed Capitol during a special session on Dec. 21, 2020. He was in his fourth term. Scharf, who once worked for Nearman, took the seat on July 6, after the close of the 2021 session.
• Christine Goodwin of Roseburg, a Republican who succeeded Gary Leif in House District 2 in Southern Oregon. Leif, who was in his second term, died of cancer July 22. Goodwin took her seat on Aug. 27.
• Akasha Lawrence Spence of Portland, a Democrat who succeeded Ginny Burdick in Senate District 18, which currently covers Southwest Portland and Tigard in Washington County. (It has been redrawn.) Burdick resigned Nov. 1 after 25 years to accept an appointment to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Lawrence Spence took her seat on Dec. 4. Lawrence Spence also was the interim successor in 2020 to Rep. Jennifer Williamson, who resigned early in preparation for a statewide campaign Williamson later dropped.
• Jessica George of Keizer, a Republican who succeeded Bill Post in House District 25. Post, who was in his fourth term, resigned Nov. 30 after moving to Nevada. She took her seat Dec. 13.
• Chris Hoy of Salem, a Democrat who succeeded Brian Clem in House District 21. Clem, who was in his eighth term, resigned Dec. 1 for family reasons. Hoy took his seat on Dec. 10.
• An appointment is in process for the seat of Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose, who resigned Dec. 16 to concentrate on her independent bid for governor. Her interim successor in the Senate will be a Democrat, since Johnson’s most recent election in 2018 was as a Democrat. Three Democrats have been nominated for consideration by commissioners in the six counties within District 16. Johnson had been in the House since 2001 and the Senate since 2005.
• An appointment is in process for the seat of Sen. Chuck Riley of Hillsboro, who resigned Jan. 1. Washington County commissioners will choose from the nominees offered by Democrats. District 15 is entirely within the county. Riley was in the House six years, lost a bid for the Senate in 2010, then won in a rematch with Republican Bruce Starr in 2014.