In 2019, Sen. Michael Dembrow made the following remarks about the GOP walkout protesting cap and trade: "We know that the voters want us to be creating this program. Every legislator that was in a contested race in 2018 ran on this issue. The governor ran on this issue. We picked up seats in both chambers in part over this issue."
In 2018, Democrats won 38 House seats and 11 Senate seats. In 40 House seats, Democrats had a voter-registration advantage over Republicans at an average of 9,357.13, while Republicans had a voter registration advantage in just 20 House seats at an average of 5,160.5. Fourteen House seats had a Democratic voter registration advantage greater than 10,000, versus just one House District with a Republican voter registration advantage that size. House District 43 had a Democratic advantage of 31,000.
Decades of partisan redistricting created a system where the majority party picks and chooses voters. Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney have used the power of their office to deny nonpartisan redistricting proposals. Oregonians deserve a system that allows voters, not parties, to choose the candidates who best represent their communities.
While the authority to draw district maps remains with the Legislature, legislators must look beyond their electoral interests and ensure all possible districts are equally divided between Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Voter registration advantages should be in the dozens, not tens of thousands. This is the only road forward to unity and honest policymaking.