Oregon’s Democratic Legislative Candidates Keep Dropping Out, Imperiling November Pickups and the Dream of a Super-Majority

It was a bad week for Dems.

November 2018 was supposed to be the election that finally delivered the super-majorities Oregon Democrats have long lusted after. After this week, that's going to be much more difficult.

The Oregon Constitution requires approval by three-fifths of each legislative chamber to pass new taxes, which Democrats would like the tools to do. In each chamber, they are one vote shy of a three-fifths advantage—the so-called super-majority (Democrats control the House 35-25 and the Senate 17-13). With Democratic anger at Republican President Donald Trump boiling over, this fall appeared to present the Democrats with their best chance in many years to take full control.

The House appeared particularly ripe for Democrats to pick up seats. Two popular incumbent Republicans who've held seats in districts where Democrats outnumber Republicans—state Reps. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) and Knute Buehler (R-Bend)—both announced they would not seek re-election. And Democrats gained momentum in other swing districts in both chambers as voter registration shifted more in their favor.

But the blue wave's momentum hit a surf wall in the past week as two Democratic candidates with chances to unseat incumbents in November abruptly dropped out and another's candidacy was badly hampered.

Here's the week that was:

1. Ryan Striker, in House District 26 (parts of Clackamas, Washington and Yamhill counties), quit his race against incumbent state Rep. Rich Vial (R-Scholls) on June 19. "I am doing what is best for my health and stepping back from my campaign," said Striker, a compliance officer for Kaiser Permanente.

2. Paul Diller, in Senate District 13 (parts of Clackamas, Marion, Washington and Yamhill counties), bailed on his challenge to incumbent state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) on June 22. "The stresses of campaigning have begun exacting a significant toll on me and my family," said Diller, a law professor at Willamette University.

3. Dr. Nathan Boddie, a physician and city councilor in House District 54 (Bend), hasn't dropped out. But on June 25, FuturePac, the House Democratic campaign committee, dropped a bomb on him, saying it was withdrawing support for his candidacy because of "serious allegations of inappropriate behavior." Boddie disputed the allegations, but without institutional organization and money, he's probably toast.