Salem Democrat Brian Clem becomes latest Oregon representative to resign

Rep. Brian Clem announces he won’t seek re-election for a ninth term in the Oregon House on Monday, Sept. 27.

State Rep. Brian Clem, who previously announced he wouldn’t run for re-election so he could focus on caring for his elderly mother, resigned Friday evening with more than a year left in his term.

The Salem Democrat said in a prepared statement that his mother triggered his decision to resign before the end of his final term.

“At this time, I have decided it is in the best interest of my constituents that I step down and focus on some immediate needs for my mother in her journey as an Oregonian living with Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “This decision was by no means easy, but in the end I want my constituents to have a legislator who is able to make their needs their complete focus for the 2022 session, and I won’t be able to do that until we have the support my mom needs in place.”

Clem, who was elected in 2007, is a moderate Democrat and one of the state House’s longest-tenured members. He has clashed with the liberal wing of his party, most recently over re-drawn legislative boundaries. 

He was one of only two Democrats to vote against the new district boundaries, which are now being challenged in the Oregon Supreme Court. The other Democrat to vote no, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, announced he would not run for re-election because he was placed into a conservative district.

Clem described his decision not to seek re-election as “liberating” during a speech on the House floor. He said he trusted state Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem, who was drawn into his district, to represent it well if she sought re-election, but he was less bullish about the state of Oregon politics in general.

“We’re in deep trouble as a community, as a state and as a country,” he said on the House floor. “Politics didn’t used to infect us, but we are in a death match now, and it involves people invading our Capitol so angrily, it involves people trying to draw people out of districts that are legitimate and it involves many different tactics on both sides.” 

Democratic precinct committee persons in Clem’s district will choose three to five candidates to replace him, and the Marion County Board of Commissioners will make the final selection. The Democratic Party of Oregon has not yet set deadlines for nominations. 

Clem is the second Democratic lawmaker to resign over the weekend. State Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, officially retired Sunday to start her term on the Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council. Applications for her seat are due Nov. 5, and her appointed replacement would have to run for election for the final two years of Burdick’s four-year term in 2022. 

The Marion and Yamhill county commissions must make an additional appointment this year after Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, announced he would resign Nov. 30. Post moved to Nevada last month but planned to continue serving in the Legislature until an elections attorney told him that wasn’t allowed.

Several lawmakers have announced they plan to resign early or indicated they won’t run for re-election. 

-Sen. Chuck Riley, D-Hillsboro: Resigning at the end of the year 

-Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer: Resigning as of Nov. 30 after moving out of state

-Sen. Ginny Burdick, D- : Resigned Oct. 31 to take a new position on Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council

-Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem: Resigned Oct. 29 to care for family

-Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie: not seeking re-election

-Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield: not seeking re-election

-Sen. Betsy Johnson, unaffiliated of Scappoose: running for governor

-Rep. Tina Kotek, D-Portland: running for governor

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