Gov. Kate Brown today named one of the Oregon House Republicans' savviest members to a circuit court judgeship in Crook and Jefferson Counties.

Brown picked state Rep. Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) to fill the judicial vacancy, which brings to an end a legislative career that began when McLane won election in 2010.

A lawyer who worked for two of Portland's leading firms, Stoel Rives and Miller Nash and also served as a lawyer in the Oregon National Guard, McLane rose quickly in the GOP caucus, serving as minority leader from 2012 to 2018.

Some GOP funders asked him to consider running for governor in 2018 because they wanted a candidate more conservative than the eventual nominee, former state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) but McLane turned them down and also decided to step down from his official position in caucus leadership.

The House Republicans have seen their power decline fairly steadily since Democrats took the majority in 2007. With the exception of the 2011 session, when Democrats and Republicans shared control in a 30 to 30 partisan split, Democrats have controlled the chamber ever since and currently hold a super-majority. McLane made it known in the Capitol he'd grown tired of serving in the minority and today, Brown gave him an elegant exit.

"Representative McLane is well-known in the Capitol for his sharp mind, personal integrity, and respect for the rule of law," Brown said in a statement. "While we haven't always seen eye-to-eye on policy, Mike's deep commitment to promoting the public good is never in doubt. These qualities have served the Oregon Legislature well and will now enrich our state court bench."