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Republican leaders in Oregon's First Senate District will nominate replacement

Republican Sen. Dallas Heard, as pictured on the Oregon Senate website, will resign.
Oregon Senate
Republican Sen. Dallas Heard resigned in mid-December.

On Saturday, three to five people will be nominated to fill the seat recently vacated by Sen. Dallas Heard.

Heard announced his resignation in mid-December, saying he wants to spend more time with his family.

But his term doesn’t end until 2025, so on Saturday, Precinct Committee People (PCPs) will nominate three to five candidates to fill that seat.

With the Oregon legislature reconvening on January 17, Michaela Hammerson, Vice Chair of the Douglas County Republican Central Committee, wants to make sure the seat is filled quickly.

"We sort of lose our vote as Republicans for that district. So it is that much more important for us to get that vacancy filled as soon as possible," she said.

Saturday's meeting will include a three-minute speech for each candidate and a question-and-answer session before the vote.

Those nominations will then go to the Boards of Commissioners for Coos, Curry and Douglas counties. The number of votes per commissioner is weighted based on the number of registered voters in each county.

The commissioners will choose one person to fill the vacancy, who must be appointed by the end of the month.

One of the people who has submitted a candidate statement for the position is Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford. Hammerson said if Smith is chosen to fill the Senate position, the party will have to undergo a similar process to fill his current position.

Hammerson said the party is looking for someone to fill the seat who believes strongly in Republican values.

"We definitely watched Dallas Heard very closely. And I think he went through a sort of unprecedented time, with the impacts of COVID and all of that. And I think that this district is just really excited to be able to have a representative back in there and be able to make an impact and have our voices heard. So this is definitely an exciting time," she said.

Heard is known for refusing to wear a mask on the Senate floor. He stepped down as chair of the Oregon GOP in March 2022, citing “communist psychological warfare tactics” in the party.

Hammerson said redistricting has affected which PCPs might be eligible to vote on Saturday. She said anyone with questions should reach out to their county.

Jane Vaughan is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. Jane began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media.