Image for Some 200 Candidates Vie for 76 Post-Redistricting Legislative Seats

The 2022 legislative session has ended and now attention shifts to the 2022 state elections with almost 200 candidates vying for 60 House seats and 16 of 30 Senate seats, all of which have been redrawn following the 2020 Census.

The first election after redistricting every 10 years tends to attract more than the usual number of candidates, and 2022 is no exception. There are almost 150 Oregonians running for 60 House seats. Reapportionment gave Oregon a sixth congressional district, which has nine Democrats and seven Republicans running for the seat that stretches from Salem to Portland’s southern suburbs. Three more hopefuls were disqualified or withdrew.

Even though not directly affected by redistricting, the open governor’s race has lured 16 Democrats, 18 Republicans and one prominent non-affiliated candidate.

Legislative races usually occur under the radar of media coverage. The Oregon Capital Chronicle has remedied that by highlighting races that are slam dunks, competitive or primary scrums.

Legislative races usually occur under the radar of media coverage. The Oregon Capital Chronicle has remedied that by highlighting races that are slam dunks, competitive or primary scrums.

Slam Dunks
Six sitting lawmakers are running unopposed – Senator Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, and Reps. Christine Goodwin, R-Canyonville, Boomer Wright, R-Reedsport, Andrea Valderrama, D-Portland, Mark Owens, R-Crane, and Greg Smith, R-Heppner. Prozanski has been in the legislature since 1995 and Smith has been in the House since 2001. The other three are relatively new lawmakers. Crane was appointed in 2020, Valderrama in 2021 and Goodwin last August.

Seven House members and two senators are running unopposed in the Democratic primary in districts considered safely Democratic.


Two Senate seats and one House seat each have one Republican and one Democrat in races that will be decided in the general election in November. The 10th Senate District pits incumbent Senator Deb Patterson, D-Salem, against Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem, in a district that now leans Democratic. The North Coast Senate District previously held by Betsy Johnson features Melissa Busch, a Democrat and nurse from Warren, running against Rep. Suzanne Weber, R-Tillamook.

Primary contests to watch include Rep. Brad Witt, who is exiting his North Oregon district to run in the Democratic primary in Salem-based House District 19, where he says he has owned a home since 2005. He faces two Salem city councilors for the Democratic nomination and the opportunity to face Republican T. J. Sullivan in the fall.

House District 21, centered on Keizer and considered a toss-up, is an open seat that has contested Democratic and Republican primaries. The biggest name in the race is Kevin Mannix, who has served in the legislature, chaired the Oregon Republican Party and run unsuccessfully for statewide office.

Senate President Peter Courtney is retiring, but Senator Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, was pulled into the district. She faces a GOP primary challenge and there are three hopefuls in the Democratic primary, none of whom have served in the legislature.

Rep. Barbara Smith Warner waited until the candidate filing deadline to announce she wouldn’t seek re-election to her Northeast Portland House district. Rep. Brad Witt isn’t seeking re-election to his Columbia County House district and instead is running in the Democratic primary in a Salem House district where he says he has owned a home for years.

House District 12 near Eugene has a slight Republican advantage and an unhappy Democratic legislator, Marty Wilde, who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit protesting redistricting that left him outside his current House district. There are four Republicans vying for the nomination to run against an unopposed Democrat in the fall. Chief among Republicans interested in the seat is dentist and volunteer wildfire firefighter Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Roseburg.

Rep. Daniel Bonham, R-The Dalles, is running for Senate District 26 where GOP Senator Chuck Thomsen is retiring. Bonham has Thomson’s endorsement along with two Republican challengers. A Democratic newcomer is running unopposed.

Incumbent Senator Bill Kennemer, R-Oregon City, must get by a Republican challenger in the primary to face off against Democratic Rep. Mark Meek, D-Gladstone, in what is viewed as a tight race.

Several primary contests will effectively determine the general election winner in so-called safe districts. Reps. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, and Lisa Reynolds, D-Portland, must overcome primary opponents to retain their House seats. If they win in May, they will run unopposed in the fall.

Two Republicans are pitted against each other in House District 23 in the Santiam Canyon and two Democrats are running against each other in House District 38, where incumbent Rep. Andrea Salinas is running for Congress. The winners of each primary face no opposition in the general election. The same is true in House District 41 in Milwaukie as two Democrats vie to replace Rep. Karin Power who isn’t seeking re-election after the 2022 legislative failed to raise lawmaker pay.

Rep. Bobby Levy, R-Echo, is being challenged in the primary in the safely Republican House District 58 in northeast Oregon. Rep. Travis Nelson, D-Portland, will face fellow Democrat Eric Delehoy, whom he beat out for the appointment to represent North Portland House District 44, replacing former House Speaker Tina Kotek who resigned to run for governor.

There is an unlikely Democratic primary in House District 45 in Northeast Portland after former House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner waited until the filing deadline to inform her constituents that she wouldn’t seek re-election. Two Democrats managed to file in time to seek the Democratic nomination.

May 17 Primary
Only the 1 million or so Democrats and 730,000 Republicans are eligible to vote in Oregon’s closed May 17 primary election. Nearly 1.2 million Oregonians, or about 40 percent of the total electorate, who aren’t registered as either Democrats or Republicans won’t be able to vote on partisan races until the November general election.