Oregon Business & Industry, which represents 1,650 Oregon companies, today officially named state Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) its first president and CEO.
Johnson, a four-term incumbent, is a home-builder and chairs the Hood River School board. In Salem, he's built a reputation as a moderate who often works with Democrats on education issues.
OBI was formed July 1 from the merger of Associated Oregon Industries, which tended to represent more old-line industries and employers around Oregon, and its smaller, newer rival, the Oregon Business Association, which tended to be more moderate and Portland-centric.
The organization will introduce Johnson at its first annual statesman dinner Oct. 10 at the Oregon Convention Center.
"I'm humbled and honored to join Oregon Business & Industry at this key time," Johnson said in a statement. "I look forward to providing leadership to help a united business community move forward to pursue solutions to the challenges we must overcome to reach our potential as a state."
WW first reported Johnson's selection on Wednesday but OBI declined to confirm it at the time. The organization's board approved the hire today.
Democrats are likely to cheer the move, because Johnson's Hood River district has grown increasingly Democratic over the years and Democrats now hold a 2,200 voter registration advantage over Republicans.
That combined with state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) bowing out of his district, which also has a significant Democratic advantage, gives House Democrats a strong chance to build on their current 35 to 25 seat advantage over Republicans.
In Oregon, all new tax measures must start in the House and in order to pass, tax measures require a super-majority of members: 36 in the House and 18 in the Senate. That means that by taking the OBI job, Johnson may have given himself plenty of work in the future, fighting off Democratic tax measures.