Canby Republican Christine Drazan announced Friday that she will resign the seat she has held for more than three years in the state House of Representatives, freeing her up to focus on the 2022 race for governor, in which she has quickly emerged as the likely GOP frontrunner.
The decision makes her the third gubernatorial candidate — and first Republican — to leave the Legislature to focus on the campaign.
Drazan’s last day will be Monday, January 31, the day before the Legislature begins its 35-day February session. Resigning frees her to campaign and raise money, as House rules bar legislators from fundraising during session.
Friday was the final day in office for House Speaker Tina Kotek. The Portland Democrat and longest-serving speaker in Oregon history announced her resignation earlier this month, and Multnomah County Democrats are already working on choosing her replacement. She, too, is running for governor.
And on Friday afternoon, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters swore in former legislative staffer Rachel Armitage to fill the Senate seat left vacant when moderate Democrat Betsy Johnson resigned in December to focus on her independent gubernatorial campaign.
Drazan was the House Republican leader from 2019 until she announced her campaign last November. In a statement announcing her resignation, she said she was disillusioned by the political atmosphere in Salem.
“I found a broken political system where people served their own interests and advanced short-sighted, bumper sticker policies,” she said. “I found abusive, entitled powerbrokers shamefully casual about the impacts their decisions had on peoples’ lives. I found gamesmanship that would turn your stomach.”
She previously worked as chief of staff for former Republican House Speaker Mark Simmons and as a political coordinator for the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, one of the state’s most powerful business lobbies.
While Republican leader, she led her caucus out of state in February 2020 to deny House Democrats the quorum they needed to pass legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions. She also spearheaded efforts to deny quorum last year after Kotek reneged on a deal to give Republicans an equal say in drawing new legislative and congressional maps.
House Republicans eventually returned in time for the Legislature to approve those maps, concerned that otherwise the task would fall to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, a Democrat.
Republican precinct committee members in Clackamas and Marion counties will nominate three to five candidates for Drazan’s seat, and county commissioners will pick one to serve until the end of Drazan’s term in January 2023.
Those same aforementioned reapportionment efforts have changed the boundaries and numbering of Canby’s House and Senate districts — though less drastically for the former.
The new House District 51, which will take effect when the new representative is sworn in next January, largely resembles the current District 39, with the biggest changes being an eastward slide that includes the communities of Sandy and Estacada and a larger chunk of eastern Clackamas County, while excluding more of the county’s urban northwest.
Drazan now leads the gubernatorial Republican primary field in fundraising, with about $640,000 in available cash and nearly $800,000 raised in total since early 2021. Her closest competition in the race comes from Lake Oswego political consultant Bridget Barton, who raised $540,000 and has $372,000 available;
Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, who raised $750,000 and has $250,000 left, and Salem oncologist Bud Pierce, who self-funded more than a third of his $850,000 haul and has $150,000 left to spend.
Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501(c)(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence.
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!