Legislative Lowdown: Identifying competitive Oregon elections in 2014

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March 18, 2014

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2014 Oregon Legislative Lowdown

Table of Contents
Majority control
Margin of victory
Competitiveness

Other 2014 Election coverage
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By Ballotpedia's State legislative team

March 11 was the signature filing deadline for candidates wishing to run for the Oregon State Senate and Oregon House of Representatives. Elections in 15 Senate districts and all 60 House districts will consist of a primary election on May 20, 2014, and a general election on November 4, 2014.

Most of the action to come out of Oregon's 2014 state legislative elections will come from the November 4 general election. Democrats have a two-seat advantage in the Senate and a 34-26 majority in the House. The House was split 30-30 until the Democrats reclaimed the chamber in 2012. Eight state representatives face general election opposition in districts that were competitive in 2012. Two of those districts will see re-matches from 2012. There are a total of 20 primary elections out of 150 possible. The Senate will see just one primary, with District 11 Republican candidates facing off to see who will challenge the incumbent in that district. The House will hold seven Democratic primaries and 12 Republican primaries. Two Democratic incumbents and three Republican incumbents face primary opposition in the House.

See also: State legislative elections, 2014, Oregon State Senate elections, 2014 and Oregon House of Representatives elections, 2014

Majority control

Heading into the November 4 election, the Democratic Party holds the majority in both state legislative chambers. Oregon's office of Governor is held by John Kitzhaber (D), making the state one of 13 with a Democratic state government trifecta.

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The Oregon State Senate is one of 20 state legislative chambers noted by Ballotpedia staff as being a battleground chamber. The Oregon Senate has a difference in partisan balance between Democrats and Republican of two seats, which amounts to 13.3 percent of the seats up for election in 2014. In 2012, when 14 districts were up for election, a total of two districts were mildly competitive, with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent. In 2014, there are nine districts where two major party candidates will appear on the general election ballot.
Oregon State Senate
Party As of September 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 16 Pending
     Republican Party 14 Pending
Total 30 30

Democrats hold an advantage of seven seats in the House, or 11.7 percent of the chamber. There are 32 districts where two major party candidates will appear on the general election ballot.

Oregon House of Representatives
Party As of September 2014 After the 2014 Election
     Democratic Party 34 Pending
     Republican Party 26 Pending
Total 60 60
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Margin of victory

Senate

A total of 14 seats in the Senate were up for election in 2012. District 5 and District 25 were the only districts to have a margin of victory of 10 percent or less. Those two mildly competitive districts saw almost $3 million in campaign contributions raised by general election candidates.[1] Elections in the Senate are staggered, meaning none of the seats with elections in 2012 are up for election in 2014.

House

All 60 seats in the House were up for election in 2012. Four of those districts held competitive elections with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Another five districts held mildly competitive elections with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent. There were 138 districts where only one major party candidate appeared on the general election ballot.[2]

The districts with elections in 2014 which held competitive or mildly competitive elections in 2012 are:

Competitive

Mildly competitive

Previously mildly competitive, now unopposed

  • District 49: Democratic incumbent Chris Gorsek (D) is unchallenged in the primary and general elections. He won the seat after defeating an incumbent by a margin of 9 percent in 2012.

Competitiveness

Using the official candidate lists from each state, Ballotpedia staff analyzes each district's election to look at the following circumstances:

  • Is the incumbent running for re-election?
  • If an incumbent is running, do they face a primary challenger?
  • Are both major parties represented on the general election ballot?

In Oregon's 2014 elections, those circumstances break down as follows:[3]

  • There are 16 open seats (21.3%) in the two chambers.
  • A total of five incumbents (8.5%) face a primary challenger.
  • Just 41 districts (54.7%) will feature a Democratic and Republican candidate on the general election ballot.

The following table puts the 2014 data into historical context. Overall index is calculated as the average of the three circumstances.

Comparing Oregon Competitiveness over the Years
Year  % Incs retiring  % incs rank  % Incs facing primary  % Incs primary rank  % seats with 2 MPC  % seats with 2 MPC rank Overall Index Overall Index Rank
2010 9.2% 14.5% 32 93.4% 5 39.0 27
2012 13.2% 35 6.2% 42 76.3% 14 31.9 30
2014 21.3% Pending 8.5% Pending 54.7% Pending 28.2 Pending

Senate

The following table details competitiveness in the Oregon State Senate.

Oregon Senate Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
6.7% 0% 60.0% 22.2

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In six of the 15 districts up for election in 2014, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of five Democrats and one Republican are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in nine of the 15 districts up for election.

Primary challenges

No incumbent state senators will face primary competition on May 20. There is one incumbent not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 14 incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition.

Retiring incumbents

In District 13, Larry George (R) is the only incumbent not seeking re-election, while 14 (93.3%) are running for re-election.

House

The following table details competitiveness in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Oregon House Competitiveness
 % Incs retiring  % Incs facing primary  % seats with 2 MPC Overall Index
25.0% 11.1% 53.3% 29.8

Candidates unopposed by a major party

In 28 of the 60 seats up for election, there is only one major party candidate running for election. A total of 20 Democrats and eight Republicans are guaranteed election in November barring unforeseen circumstances.

Two major party candidates will face off in the general election in 32 (53.3%) of the 60 districts up for election. Four of those seats held competitive elections in 2012 with a margin of victory ranging from 0 to 5 percent. Five other elections were mildly competitive, with a margin of victory between 5 and 10 percent.

Primary challenges

A total of five incumbents will face primary competition on May 20. There are 15 incumbents not seeking re-election in 2014 and another 40 incumbents will advance past the primary without opposition.

Retiring incumbents

Fifteen incumbent representatives, six Democrats and nine Republicans, are not running for re-election, while 45 (75.0%) are running for re-election. Those retiring incumbents are:

Name Party Current Office
Tim Freeman Ends.png Republican House District 2
Wally Hicks Ends.png Republican House District 3
Dennis Richardson Ends.png Republican House District 4
Bruce Hanna Ends.png Republican House District 7
Sara Gelser Electiondot.png Democratic House District 16
Kevin Cameron Ends.png Republican House District 19
Vicki Berger Ends.png Republican House District 20
Kim Thatcher Ends.png Republican House District 25
Ben Unger Electiondot.png Democratic House District 29
Chris Harker Electiondot.png Democratic House District 34
Carolyn Tomei Electiondot.png Democratic House District 41
Jules Bailey Electiondot.png Democratic House District 42
Greg Matthews Electiondot.png Democratic House District 50
Jason Conger Ends.png Republican House District 54
Bob Jenson Ends.png Republican House District 58

See also

External links

References