© 2022 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
KSOR Header background image 1
a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oregon House Republicans have a new leader

Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson, R-Prineville, on the House Chamber floor at the Oregon State Capitol, May 18, 2021 in Salem, Ore. Breese-Iverson was elected by House Republicans to serve as the caucus leader.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
/
OPB
Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson, R-Prineville, on the House Chamber floor at the Oregon State Capitol, May 18, 2021 in Salem, Ore. Breese-Iverson was elected by House Republicans to serve as the caucus leader.

State Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson will lead the caucus as it tries to reclaim ground from majority Democrats in next year's elections.

Republicans in the Oregon House have a new leader, as the party seeks to eat into Democrats’ supermajority in next year’s elections.

In a meeting Tuesday, the House Republican caucus selected state Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson of Prineville as leader. Former Republican Leader Christine Drazan stepped down from the role as she prepares to run for governor.

“It’s an honor to be chosen by my friends and colleagues for this role,” Breese-Iverson said in a statement. “I’m proud of the work that this Caucus has achieved together in recent years, standing up to the one-party dominance that controls this state.”

A real estate agent and small business owner, local leaders appointed Breese-Iverson to the House in 2019 to fill a vacant seat, and she won election to the post last year. Prior to joining the Legislature, she had served as a staff member for Republican lawmakers, including former House Speaker Karen Minnis.

Breese-Iverson has spent much of her time in office working on natural resources and business issues that get little notice, but earlier this year was at the center of a controversy when she accused a Democratic lawmaker, state Rep. Brad Witt, of sexually harassing her in a series of text messages.

Breese-Iverson said those texts showed Witt wanted to trade his vote on one of her signature bills for a date. A legislative committee ultimately found that Witt did not intend to harass Breese-Iverson with the messages, but also that they could reasonably be perceived as sexual and violated workplace rules.

Like some Republicans across the country, Breese-Iverson has repeatedly raised doubts about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

In December of last year, she was one of eight House Republicans to sign onto a letter calling on Oregon to join a lawsuit challenging election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Earlier this year, Breese-Iverson also sent a letter to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, requesting a “full forensic audit” of the state’s 2020 election, citing emails her office had received from citizens claiming voter fraud.

Her name also appears on another letter that has circulated in recent days. The open letter, purportedly from more than 150 state lawmakers from around the country, is dated Nov. 23 and addressed to “the citizens of the United States of America.” It calls for a forensic audit of election results in all 50 states.

“This is our historic obligation to restore the election integrity of the vote as the bedrock of our constitutional republic,” the letter reads. While appended to the letter alongside three other Oregon Republicans, Breese-Iverson’s name is misspelled. A spokesman did not respond to a question about whether she had signaled her support for the document.

No evidence has emerged to support President Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. In Oregon, then-Secretary of State Bev Clarno, a Republican, oversaw elections statewide, and strongly affirmed their outcome.

The leadership change for House Republicans comes at a fractious time in Salem. In recent years, Republicans have repeatedly walked away from the Capitol and used delay tactics to stymie what they say is overreach by majority Democrats.

“The size of state government has ballooned after a decade of Democrats’ liberal agenda-driven focus and as a result made Oregon more expensive for everyone,” Breese-Iverson said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing our work in this new role to fight for much-needed balance. House Republicans will not stop pushing for solutions that focus on the actual needs of Oregonians.”

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Dirk VanderHart is JPR's Salem correspondent reporting from the Oregon State Capitol. His reporting is funded through a collaboration between public radio stations around the Northwest called the Northwest News Network.