In an oddly-timed move, the Oregon House Republican caucus held leadership elections tonight and tossed out its second ranking member, State Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn).
It's unusual for a caucus to choose its leaders in the middle of a legislative session, although GOP caucus spokesman Shawn Cleave says that the decision of House Republican Whip Rep. Wally Hicks (R-Grants Pass) not to seek re-election prompted the move.
"My recollection is that Democrats hold their elections at the end of session but we've held them at different times," Cleave says. "The decision of Rep. Hicks to step down was the reason for this one."
Although House Minority Leader Mike McLane (R-Central Point) retained his position, his deputy, Parrish, did not, losing her post to Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville).
Cleave declined to comment on why that switch occurred.
Parrish, a two-term veteran, has diverged from GOP orthodoxy in visible ways recently, publicly announcing her support for same-sex marriage and more recently, voting for House Bill 4143, controversial legislation that would allocate unclaimed class action lawsuit proceeds to Legal Aid of Oregon.
But sources in both parties and the lobby say what really cost Parrish was her decision to recruit a candidate in House District 25, the Salem-area seat being vacated by Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer). Salem radio host Bill Post, had previously announced he'd run for Thatcher's seat.
So when Barbara Jensen also jumped into the GOP primary earlier this month, some people felt Parrish, who was in charge of the House GOP's electoral strategy, had broken one of Salem's unwritten rules—don't waste resources on primary battles.
Parrish declined to address the loss of her leadership position.
"I wish the caucus and new leadership team much luck," she said via text message.