Rep. Michael Dembrow
(D-Northeast Portland) announced
this morning he will seek the Senate seat Sen. Jackie Dingfelder
(D-Northeast and Southeast Portland) vacated to go to work for Mayor Charlie Hales.
“Jackie has served residents of NE and SE Portland extremely well
for the last 12 years. She has led the effort to keep Oregon’s
environment safe for our children and grandchildren,” Dembrow said in a statement.
“I will do all I can to continue her good work, while bringing to
the Senate my own strong background in education, human services, and
workforce development. I’ve worked closely with Senators of both
parties during my time in the House and I know how to get important
The only other person with a shot at the appointment is Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer
(D-Southeast Portland), who has already said she won't challenge Dembrow.
Dembrow's decision was not the slam-dunk
that moving up to the Senate usually is for House members. He had at least two reasons to stay put: first, his seat is about as safe as any in the Legislature so having to run every two years in the House rather than every four years in the Senate is not much of a hardship.
Second, Dembrow, a community college professor, already chairs the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. With the departure of House Education Committee chairwoman Sara Gelser
(D-Corvallis), who is also running for the Senate, Dembrow could have enjoyed an even larger policy-setting role for the area that takes up the largest share of the state budget.
But he's moving up and while his departure costs the Democratic caucus a diligent and effective member, it may actually help House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland)
as she looks to soothe some egos ruffled in the recently completed special session. With House Environment and Energy chairman Jules Bailey
(D-Portland) leaving to run for county commission, Kotek now has three key committee chairmanships to dole out.
Few blandishments inspire lawmakers' loyalty like the gavels
given to committee chairs.