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Sen. Brian Boquist: Independent
One effect is that local parties won’t get to nominate his replacement

Senator Brian Boquist (I-Dallas) stunned Oregon political observers last week when he changed his voter registration from Republican to Independent and appears to not be caucusing with the Senate Republican Caucus, without offering an explanation. It's not the first time Senator Boquist has caused buzz and speculation. He represents Senate District 12, which includes much of the western Willamette valley.

One clear impact -- and it's not clear if this is Senator Boquist's intent, is that were he to retire, he has removed the local county Republican parties' involvement with his replacement. Boquist's sprawling district spans parts of the counties of Washington, Yamhill, Polk, Marion and Benton counties, and if he were a member of a majority party -- a Democrat or Republican -- those party members would assist in naming his replacement.

ORS 171.060 describes two procedures for filling a vacancy. Section (1) describes the process that's been used several times in the last few years -- the filling of a vacancy of a seat held by a member of a major party. In this case, a convention of the Precinct Committee People from that district and members of the same party as the vacating member and they vote to send between three and five nominees for the seat. The County Commissioners from the counties in the district then vote to select a replacement from those nominees. In the case of a seat, such as Senator Boquist's seat, where the seat is not held by a member of a major party, the Precinct Committee Person nominating convention is skipped, and the County Commissioners are free to appoint anyone to the seat -- even one of themselves -- and they can appoint from any party.

Recall that a voter who registers as an Independent becomes a member of the Independent Party of Oregon. A true independent would be a Non-Affiliated Voter. The statute governing vacancies for minor parties reads:

(2) When any vacancy as is mentioned in ORS 171.051 exists in the office of Senator or Representative not affiliated with a major political party and that vacancy is to be filled by an appointing authority as provided in ORS 171.051, the Secretary of State forthwith shall notify the county courts or boards of county commissioners of the counties constituting the district in which the vacancy occurs of the vacancy and of the number of votes apportioned to each member of the county courts or boards of county commissioners under ORS 171.062 and 171.064. The Secretary of State shall set a time for a meeting of the county courts or boards of county commissioners and by rule shall establish procedures for the conduct of the meeting. If the district is composed of more than one county, the Secretary of State shall name a temporary chairperson and designate a meeting place within the district where the county courts or boards of county commissioners shall convene for the purpose of appointing a person to fill the vacancy.

Boquist, who is 62, has been a member of the Oregon Senate since 2009. He was first elected to the Oregon House in 2005. From time to time, he has spoken of retiring, but has always re-filed for re-election each cycle.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-26 15:20:28Last Update: 2021-01-26 16:08:05

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