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Roseburg Republican Will Replace Jeff Kruse In State Senate

<p>Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg</p>

Oregon Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg

Oregon state Rep. Dallas Heard, a 33-year-old Roseburg Republican who owns a landscaping business, was selected to replace Sen. Jeff Kruse in the state Senate.

Kruse resigned after an investigation revealed he had a pattern of “engaging in unwelcome physical contact toward females in the workplace.”

Kruse, who served for 22 years in the Legislature, denied the allegations against him and said in a newsletter that the entire episode was “scripted and designed to a specific end,” he said, which was for the political gain of some.

Heard was chosen by the county commissioners from his district, including Coos, Curry, Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties.

Former state Rep. Tim Freeman, now a Douglas County Commissioner, chaired the meeting. There were three candidates vying for the post. Heard received eight out of the nine votes from the commissioners, according to Nikolas Ruiz Anderson, who is Heard’s chief of staff.

Heard was not immediately available for comment. He will now serve until the general election in November. If he is re-elected, he will serve the remaining two years of Kruse’s term, according to Ruiz Anderson.

Heard is in the midst of his second legislative term in the House. He’s worked to bolster apprenticeship programs for both high school students and veterans.

But the young lawmaker has had his share of controversy.

Heard came under fire earlier this year when The Register Guard uncovered that he had told national conservative host Rush Limbaugh that he wasn’t “comfortable” with the thought of a woman as president. Heard was 24-years-old at the time and the topic was a possible run by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“It’s been my experience in life that I have a lot more confidence and a lot more comfort under strong, honest, dedicated male leadership, male person in leadership rather than the flip side there,” Heard said, according to a transcript of the show reported by The Register Guard.

Heard said he hoped he wouldn’t be judged by comments he made when he was younger and that they weren’t indicative of his current perspective.

The Republican GOP caucus is led by a woman, Sen. Jackie Winters of Salem. Heard said he had no problem with her in the leadership role.

Heard also grabbed attention in 2016, when he traveled to Burns, Oregon, with a group of politicians that tried to advocate for leniency on Ammon Bundy and other men who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

At the time, Heard was a member of the Coalition of Western States — a secretive group of Republican lawmakers who advocate for turning over federal public lands to state control.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting