Two longtime lawmakers on Oregon's south coast announced today they will not seek re-election in 2020.
State Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), who entered the Legislature in 2005, and his replacement in the House, state Rep. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) are both retiring.
Both lawmakers have held key leadership positions. Roblan served as co-speaker of the House in 2011, when Democrats and Republicans each held 30 seats. More recently, Roblan, a retired public school administrator, served as co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Student Success, which passed a multi-billion dollar corporate activities tax in the 2019 session.
"Passing the Student Success Act is the single biggest accomplishment of my legislative career, and I'm very proud of the work that my colleagues and I were able to deliver for the people of Oregon," Roblan said in a statement.
McKeown, a former school board member and Port of Coos Bay official, served as co-chair of the Joint Transportation Committee, which in 2017 passed a $5.3 billion tax to fund infrastructure projects statewide.
"I first sought this post because I believe Oregon's South Coast deserves to have someone fighting for them in the legislature," McKeown said in a statement. "Over my four terms, I have been proud to work across the aisle to bring significant investments to our communities on the South Coast. It has truly been an honor."
The retirements come on the heels of the announcement last week by state Rep. Carla Piluso (D-Gresham) that she will step down. Unlike Piluso's district, which is solidly Democratic, the Coos Bay Districts offer Republicans at least some chance of whittling away at the super-majorities Democrats hold in both chambers.
In McKeown's House District 9, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by just 541 voters, about 1 percent of the electorate in that district.
Roblan's Senate District 5 is bluer, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 4,741 voters, an advantage of five percentage points.
The Coos Bay area is more moderate than many Democratic districts, which is reflected in McKeown's being one of only two House Democrats to vote against House Bill 2020, the cap-and-trade legislation that failed last session (state Rep. Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) was the other). Roblan also said he would vote no, although the bill never got a floor vote in the Senate.
Timber Unity, a popular movement that emerged in opposition to HB 2020, gained supporters on the coast, where fuel intensive businesses such as logging and fishing are important to the economy. Its members are likely to seek GOP challengers for both Coos Bay seats.