SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon House on Wednesday approved HB 2945, an election reform bill that seeks to prevent incumbent office holders from hand-picking their successors.
The measure, authored by House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte), sets an advanced deadline for incumbent office holders to file for re-election. HB 2945 comes in response to a series of incidents in which elected officials used their incumbency status to benefit their preferred successors.
“I brought this legislation forward after witnessing several instances of elected officials using the power of incumbency in ways that were undemocratic and, frankly, insulting to Oregon voters,” said Rep. McLane.
“Everyone recognizes that the power of incumbency can deter potential candidates from running for office, so when elected officials abuse this power to the benefit of their handpicked successors, it undermines the legitimacy of our political process,” he added.
HB 2945 would require incumbent office holders to file for re-election one week before the deadline for non-incumbents.
If an incumbent candidate files for re-election and then withdraws from running after the filing deadline, HB 2945 would reopen the filing period for the race for an additional three business days.
Both provisions are intended to make it significantly more difficult for politicians to engineer a competition-free primary election for their successors. The measure would also provide candidates with extra time to file voters’ pamphlet statements in situations where an incumbent withdraws after the original filing deadline.
“Members of both parties are guilty of this practice,” continued Rep. McLane. “By moving forward with HB 2945, we have an opportunity to say ‘enough is enough’ and take a positive step toward establishing fairer and more competitive elections in Oregon.”
In addition to Rep. McLane, HB 2945 is chief sponsored by House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick and Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli. Having passed the House by a vote of 57-2, the bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.