We Asked Oregon Republican Lawmakers: Do They Acknowledge Biden Won?

We also asked what they’re telling their constituents to do on Inauguration Day, when right-wing protests are planned in 50 state capitals and Washington, D.C.

A right-wing protester holds a rifle outside the Oregon Capitol. (Justin Yau)

Last month, a dozen Republican state legislators asked Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to join a Texas lawsuit that challenged the presidential election results in key swing states.

Rosenblum, who is married to the co-owner of WW's parent company, declined. That seemed to settle the matter. But Oregon Republicans' support for the lawsuit again became a point of political contention last week after a mob of Trump loyalists overran the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, seeking to overturn the election. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.

"Frankly, every #ORleg Republican who signed this letter is also complicit in today's violence," Rep. Julie Fahey (D-West Eugene) tweeted Jan. 6 with a link to the letter requesting a challenge of the election results.

Republicans took umbrage. "This was not a coup, and Rep. Fahey's statement that those of us that signed a letter for the Oregon attorney general to uphold fair elections are 'complicit in today's violence' is shamefully arrogant and wrong," said Rep. David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) in a statement Jan. 8. "I have been very clear as this was not an act of sedition, it was to highlight the unconstitutional actions surrounding elections that occurred in Pennsylvania."

Republican unwillingness to accept the election results, and the prospect of a right-wing insurrection, remains a serious threat to the future of the nation—and the peace of Oregon.

So WW asked all 12 of the legislators who sought to overturn the results of the presidential election whether they recognized Joe Biden as the legitimately elected president of the United States and what, if anything, they're telling their constituents to do on Inauguration Day, when right-wing protests are planned in 50 state capitals and Washington, D.C.

Five of the legislators responded to a written request for comment along with a follow-up. Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) notably says that his constituents should "acknowledge our new president."

That advice might need to apply to his fellow legislators. Notably, Oregon secretary of state candidate Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), who lost to Shemia Fagan, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did seven others.

We asked:

1. Do you recognize Joe Biden as the legitimately elected president of the United States: yes or no? Please explain your reasoning.

2. What are you telling constituents to do on Inauguration Day?

Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River)

"Joe Biden is our next U.S. president. I'm unclear on a need to explain that reasoning. We have elections in this country, and the winner gets inaugurated.

"Stay home and acknowledge our new president."

Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer)

"Yes, I do recognize President-elect Biden as the incoming president. I signed the letter to the attorney general because I believe there were some inconsistencies in some states.…I felt that the Texas lawsuit was a way for an investigation into those inconsistencies.

"I would say select a news/media outlet and watch it if presidential inaugurations are of interest to them! No matter what party wins the presidency, Inauguration Day is a big deal, especially to political geeks like me, so I'll be watching as I have every four years since the first one I can remember watching in 1968."

Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson (R-Prineville)

"The decision to certify the presidential election falls upon Congress, consistent with the vote of the Electoral College. This is the model that has served this country well for over 200 years. Joe Biden is the president-elect.

"The focus of state legislatures throughout the country should be to continue to improve our systems, ensure the process is fair and equitable to all voters, and know without a doubt that the integrity of each state's system, including Oregon's, is beyond reproach."

Rep. David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford)

"Unlike many leaders across our state, who have been vocal over the last four years never accepting Trump as their president, I have already accepted President-elect Biden. As leaders of our state, it's critically important to lead by example, especially for our youth."

"As I articulated in last Friday's press release, I support any individual's right to peacefully protest and condemn unlawful riots and acts violence whenever and wherever they occur. I encourage everyone, especially our youth, to watch President-elect Biden's inauguration and listen to his address to the nation on his administration's vision for the future. I hope we can come together as a state and a nation for all Oregonians and all people across our great republic."

Rep. Gary Leif (R-Roseburg)

"At the time I signed the challenge letter, I was given information that did not actually transpire.  I cannot take back my signature, but…I was very much misled regarding the letter in question.

"We have concluded the election and Joe Biden is our next president….I'm encouraging everyone to simply treat the upcoming inauguration as we have all those in the past.  We will peacefully transition from one elected president to the next elected president."

Did not respond:

Sen. Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls)

Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer)

Former Sen. Alan Olsen (R-Canby)

Former Rep. Greg Barreto (R-Cove)

Rep. Mike Nearman (R-Independence)

Rep. E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls)

Rep. Bobby Levy (R-Echo)

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