At least two of the elections that will help decide who controls the 2017 Oregon Legislature will take place in the Portland area next year. That’s because two Democratic state representatives have announced they won’t run for reelection, creating rare open seats heading into the 2016 campaign season.
House District 27 is being vacated by Tobias Read who is running for treasurer. House District 40 is being vacated by Brent Barton. House District 14 is likely to be vacated by Rep. Val Hoyle who is going to run for Secretary of State in what is expected to be a contentious primary
HD 27 Voter Registration
House District 27
This seat being open may increases its competitiveness slightly, but not nearly enough to overcome the 16 points voter registration advantage for Democrats. Read held this seat with little difficulty over the last two cycles. Unless Republicans can establish some currently unforeseen advantage, they would be better off focusing on a number of more competitive seats. This seat is rated Safe Democrat.
House District 40
After Barton announced he would not run in 2016, I took the opportunity to look at the relevant data for House District 40. Note the results from 2012 and 2014. Even under unfavorable (2012) and very unfavorable (2014) conditions for Oregon Republicans, they still managed to keep the numbers relatively close in this district. It will require a good candidate and quite a bit of cash, but this seat is winnable. This seat is rated Lean Democrat.
HD 14 Voter Registration
House District 14
As previously mention, Hoyle is making her way up the political food chain. This seat favors Democrats by about 10 points. Democrats already have two potential successors ready to run. This district is a steep climb for the generic Republican candidate but if a popular, elected Republican got into the race it could easily become more interesting. Until that happens this seat is rated Safe Democrat.
Barton's seat will be a major target for sure. Read's is untouchable and Hoyle's is currently a bit out of reach. Republicans have additional (difficult) pickup opportunities elsewhere. I will evaluate those in the coming weeks and months.