Where Oregon House races stand ahead of the primary

More than 120 candidates are vying for 60 seats in the state House this year, including the most recent Republican nominee for governor and a handful of candidates trying to flip control of key swing seats. 

Democrats now hold 35 seats in the House, with 25 districts represented by Republicans. The overall balance of power in the state House isn’t likely to shift following November’s elections, but Democratic wins could give the caucus the three-fifths majority needed to pass tax increases without Republican support.

Most incumbents are running again, and most races are in seats that are reliably Democratic or Republican. The two parties are targeting a handful of swing swing seats, four held by Republicans and five held by Democrats, while other competitive races could arise as the November election draws closer. 

The swing seats

Rep. Kevin Mannix, R-Salem, has been a fixture of Oregon politics for decades, serving in the state House and Senate as both a Democrat and Republican in the 1990s. He spearheaded a series of ballot initiatives and legislative referrals that set tougher sentences for criminals in the 1990s and 2000s, ran for Congress and statewide offices several times through the 2000s and returned to the state House in 2023 after redistricting made the 21st Senate District in north Salem and Keizer more friendly to Republicans. 

 Rep. Kevin Mannix, R-Keizer, speaks with Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, on the House floor at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Mannix defeated Democrat Ramiro Navarro Jr. by nearly 6 percentage points in the 2022 election, but Democrats are more optimistic about their chances in 2024 with Democratic Salem City Councilor Virginia Stapleton in the race. Keith Haxton, a former legislative aide, is also running in the Democratic primary on May 21.

The neighboring 22nd House District around Woodburn was closer in 2022, when Rep. Tracy Cramer, R-Gervais, defeated Woodburn School Board member Anthony Medina by 3.2 points. It had unusually low turnout – just less than 41% of voters in the district participated, compared to a statewide average of nearly 67% – and Democrats hope Lesly Munoz, a consultant for the Oregon Education Association, will perform better.

Rep. Cyrus Javadi, R-Tillamook, is looking at a potential general election rematch with Democrat Logan Laity, a small business marketer who he beat by 2.5 percentage points and fewer than 850 votes in the coastal 32nd House District in 2022. But first, Javadi must beat back a primary challenge from retired corrections officer Glenn Gaither. 

Rep. Annessa Hartman, D-Gladstone, won her race in Clackamas County’s 40th House District by just 181 votes in 2022. Republicans Sue Leslie, a former legislative aide, and Michael Newgard, an Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot, are vying for the chance to take her on in November.

Rep. Hoa Nguyen, D-Portland, won the 48th House District by 2.5 points in 2022. She faces a primary challenge from Elizabeth Petersen, a clinical trial manager. Small business owner John Masterman and former Damascus City Councilor Andrew Morrison are running in the Republican primary. 

Rep. Zach Hudson, D-Troutdale, won reelection by 4.3 points in 2022 in the 49th House District in Multnomah County. He now faces a challenge from Republican Terry Tipsord, owner of a business development company. 

Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, won by 3.7 points in the 50th House District in east Multnomah County in 2022. He’ll face Republican Paul Drechsler, who owns a landscape supply business.

House Minority Leader Jeff Helfrich, R-Hood River, won by 5.1 points in 2022. Democratic drug and alcohol prevention specialist Nick Walden Poublon is running in the 52nd House District in the Columbia River Gorge.  

Bend and Redmond have been trending toward Democrats for several years, and Rep. Emerson Levy, D-Bend, flipped the 53rd House seat by just more than 500 votes in 2022. Her Republican challenger in the central Oregon district this year is Redmond School Board member Keri Lopez.  

Democratic primaries to watch

House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Holvey’s decision to retire after 20 years in the House opened a safe Democratic in Eugene’s 8th District. Doyle Canning, an attorney and past congressional candidate who now works as Portland Democratic Rep. Khanh Pham’s legislative director, will face Lisa Fragala, a Lane Community College Board director and university partnership coordinator for Pacific University. No Republicans are running.

Former Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, is running for attorney general, leaving the 16th House District in Benton County up for grabs. Corvallis School District Board members Sami Al-Abdrabbuh and Sarah Finger McDonald will face off in the Democratic primary, with no Republicans running.  Al-Abdrabbuh is an engineering instructor at Oregon State University and McDonald is an academic advisor at Oregon State University. 

 Rep. Farrah Chaichi, D-Beaverton, laughs while talking to Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield, on the House floor on Sunday, June 25, 2023. Chaichi wore a shirt from Beaverton Pride, an event several legislators missed on Sunday, while Lively dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

With Rep. Maxine Dexter, D-Portland, running for Congress, the 33rd House District in north Portland is an open race. Surgeon Brian Duty, attorney Pete Grabiel and Oregon Change Clinic founder Shannon Jones Isadore are running in the Democratic primary. The winner will face either retired accountant Stan Baumhofer or forest consultant Dick Courter in November. 

Rep. Farrah Chaichi, D-Beaverton, quickly made a name for herself as the furthest left member of the Democratic caucus, garnering national attention for an unsuccessful bill to decriminalize camping in public places and allow homeless people to sue for $1,000 if they’re forced to move. She’ll face a primary challenge in the 35th House District from Casey Zimmerman, an aerospace sales and business development director. The winner will meet retired Navy hospital corpsman Dan Martin in November. 

First-term Rep. Jules Walters, D-West Linn, has a primary challenge from Democrat Brian Maguire, CEO of a cloud services company, in the 37th House District. The winner will face Republican Ben Edtl. 

With Rep. Khanh Pham, D-Portland, running for the state Senate, the safely Democratic 46th House District in southeast Portland is up for grabs. Public defender Willy Chotzen and retired public health nurse Mary Lou Hennrich, both Democrats, are running. 

Republican primaries to watch

After Rep. Charlie Conrad, R-Dexter, broke with his party to vote for a bill that aimed to guarantee access to abortion and gender-affirming care, fellow Republicans vowed to take him out. Republican business owner Darin Harbick, who tried unsuccessfully to run for first governor and then the U.S. Senate in 2022, is challenging Conrad in 12th District in rural Lane County. No Democrats are running.

 Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, speaks during a press conference about a primary challenge to Rep. Charlie Conrad, R-Dexter. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, the 2022 Republican nominee for governor, announced a challenge to Rep. James Hieb, the Canby Republican appointed to replace her in the 51st House District two years ago. No Democrats are running.

Freshman Rep. Brian Stout, R-Columbia City, decided not to run for reelection after an inauspicious term that included being barred from participating in committees because he’s the subject of a restraining order brought by a former campaign volunteer. He’s backing real estate agent Darcey Edwards in her Republican primary against fellow real estate agent Aaron Hall in the 31st House District. The winner will face Democrat Jordan Gutierrez, a tax consultant.

Incumbents with no challengers

Fifteen incumbent representatives will coast to victory with no primary or general election challengers. They are:

  • Rep. Virgle Osborne, R-Roseburg, in the 2nd House District in Douglas County.
  • Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, in the coastal 10th House District.
  • Speaker Julie Fahey, D-Eugene, in the 14th House District in west Eugene and Veneta.
  • Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton, in the 18th House District in Clackamas and Marion counties. 
  • Rep. Lucetta Elmer, R-McMinnville, in the 24th House District in Polk and Yamhill counties.
  • Rep. Susan McLain, D-Forest Grove, in the 29th House District in Washington County.
  • Rep. Nathan Sosa, D-Hillsboro, in the 30th House District in Washington County.
  • Rep. Daniel Nguyen, D-Portland, in the 38th House District in Clackamas and Multnomah counties.
  • Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, in the 42nd House District in Multnomah County. 
  • Rep. Thuy Tran, D-Portland, in the 45th House District in Multnomah County. 
  • Rep. Andrea Valderrama, D-Portland, in the 47th House District in Multnomah County. 
  • Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, in the Bend-based 54th House District
  • Rep. Emily McIntire, R-Eagle Point, in the 56th House District in Jackson and Klamath counties.
  • Rep. Bobby Levy, R-Echo, in the 58th House District in northeast Oregon.
  • Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, in the vast 60th House District in eastern Oregon.

Token opposition in safe districts

Most Oregon House districts are dominated by Republicans or Democrats. Another 22 representatives have general election opponents but are likely to win reelection because of the makeup of their districts.

Rep. Court Boice, R-Gold Beach, will have a general election matchup with Curry County Democratic Party Chair Bret Cecil in the 1st House District along the southern Oregon coast. 

Appointed Rep. Dwayne Yunker, R-Grants Pass, will face the winner of a Democratic primary between landscaper Mark Seligman and Taco Bell dishwasher Dustin Watkins in the 3rd House District in Josephine County. 

Alek Skarlatos, the Republican nominee for Congress in the 4th Congressional District in 2022, is now running for the 4th House District, which includes portions of Douglas, Jackson and Josephine counties. He’ll face Democratic retired Realtor Richard Chasm in the general election.

Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, will face the winner of a Republican primary between retired Forest Service employee Sandra Abercrombie and property management company vice president Katherine Green in the 5th House District in Jackson County.

Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford, will face either Lilia Caballero, a cultural outreach coordinator for the Medford Police Department, or John Holm, who stopped working because of a disability, in the 6th House District

Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Coos Bay, has a Democratic challenger in farm equipment sales and service manager Erik Schuttpelz in the 9th House District along the coast. 

Rep. Jami Cate, R-Lebanon, will face retired Democratic systems analyst Nina Brenner in the general election in the 11th House District in rural Linn and Marion counties. 

Rep. Nancy Nathanson, D-Eugene, has a challenge from Republican insurance company CEO Timothy Sunderland in the 13th House District in Lane County.

Rep. Shelly Boshart David, R-Albany, will face retired Democratic engineer Terrence Virnig in the 15th House District in rural Benton, Lane and Marion counties.

 Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany, works on the House floor at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Rep Ed Diehl, R-Stayton, has a Democratic challenger in David Beem, a garage door salesman and disability advocate, in the 17th House District in rural Linn and Marion counties. 

Rep. Tom Andersen, D-Salem, will face Republican insurance agent and Navy veteran David Brown in the 19th House District in south Salem.

Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, has a general election lined up with Kevin Chambers, a well driller and past chair of the Polk County Republican Party, in the 20th House District.

Rep. Anna Scharf, R-Amity, will face Democrat Kriss Wright, a Newberg planning commissioner, in the 23rd House District in Polk and Yamhill counties.

Rep. Ben Bowman, D-Tigard, will face Republican engineer Bob Niewmeyer in the 25th House District in Washington County.

Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, will square off against Republican tow truck salesman Jason Fields in the 26th House District in Clackamas, Washington and Yamhill counties. 

Rep. Ken Helm, D-Portland, will face Republican reading consultant Sandra Nelson in the 27th House District in Washington County.

State Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Portland, at the annual Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland on Dec. 11, 2023.
 State Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Portland, at the annual Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland on Dec. 11, 2023. (Michael Romanos/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Rep. Dacia Grayber, D-Portland, will face retired accountant Charles “Chick” Mengis in the general election in the 28th House District in Multnomah and Washington counties. 

Rep. Lisa Reynolds, D-Beaverton, has a challenge from Republican retired banker John Verbeek in the 34th House District in Washington and Multnomah counties.  

Rep. Hai Pham, D-Hillsboro, will face Republican Shawn Chummar, the CEO of a logistics company, in the 36th House District in Washington County.

Rep. Mark Gamba, D-Milwaukie, has a Republican challenger in retired economist Elvis Clark in the 41st House District in Clackamas and Multnomah counties. 

Rep. Tawna Sanchez, D-Portland, will face Republican retired Marine Corps officer Tim LeMaster in the 43rd House District in Multnomah County. 

Rep. E. Werner Rescke, R-Malin, will face retired executive chef James Williamson of Klamath Falls in the general election in the 55th House District in Deschutes and Klamath counties. 

Other races

Rep. John Lively, D-Springfield, has a primary with Ryan Rhoads, a laborer for Lane County’s Grassroots Garden. The winner will face Republican Cory Burket, a business development manager, in the 7th House District in Lane County. 

Rep. Janelle Bynum, now running for Congress, had a tougher-than-expected reelection bid in 2022 in the 39th House District in Clackamas County following redistricting. With Bynum gone, it’s an open race between Democratic North Clackamas School Board member April Dobson and Republican Aimee Reiner, a customer account manager. Democrats still hold an edge in voter registration in the district, but Clackamas County is less reliably Democratic than Multnomah or Washington counties.

Rep. Travis Nelson, D-Portland, has a primary challenge from Christine Nair, a senior learning and leadership specialist for Nordstrom. No Republicans are running in the safely Democratic Multnomah County 44th House District

Longest-tenured Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, faces a primary challenge from operating engineer Raymond Akers in the 57th House District in north-central Oregon. No Democrats are running.

Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, has two primary challengers in the 59th House District in central Oregon: Joseph Goodwin is a phone salesman and Austyn Goody is a freelance digital promoter. Democrat Brian Samp, an unemployed electrician, is also running.

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Julia Shumway is deputy editor of Oregon Capital Chronicle and has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.