Commissioners from Baker County and eight other counties voted today to appoint Lynn Findley, a Republican from Vale, to replace Cliff Bentz as a state senator representing Senate District 30.
Commissioners chose Findley, who is a state representative for House District 60, over two other candidates picked Saturday by Republican Party precinct committee members from the counties in District 30 — Rod Runyon of Wasco County and Eric Wattenburg of Sisters.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve the people of Senate District 30," Findley said in a press release issued this afternoon. "I have worked hard to represent the voices of Eastern Oregonians since I have been in the House of Representatives and there is much more work to be done. It has been an honor to serve the people House District 60 and I am looking forward to this new challenge.”
Although party committee members nominate candidates, the final choice is made by commissioners from the counties in District 30. That district, the largest geographically in the Oregon Senate, includes all of Baker, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur and Wheeler counties, as well as parts of Deschutes, Lake, Wasco, Clackamas and Marion counties.
Each county is allocated one vote for every 1,000 registered voters or major fraction of 1,000 (more than 500).
Baker County, which has slightly fewer than 12,000 registered voters, had a total of 12 votes, meaning each of the three commissioners — Bill Harvey, Mark Bennett and Bruce Nichols — had four votes each.
The vote breakdown by county: Baker, 12; Deschutes, 17; Grant, 5; Harney, 5; Jefferson, 15; Lake, 1; Malheur, 16; Wasco, 16; Wheeler, 1. Neither Clackamas nor Marion county had votes because the parts of those counties within District 30 are mainly in the Cascade Mountains, and neither has more than 500 registered voters.
Baker County Commissioner Mark Bennett said the vote tally was 60.33 for Findley; 15.99 for Runyon; and 11.34 for Wattenburg.
Bentz resigned Jan. 2 so he could focus his attention on running for Congress. Bentz hopes to replace Greg Walden as representative for Oregon's Second Congressional District. Walden announced last fall that he won't seek re-election.
This is the second time Findley, a Republican from Vale, has been appointed to replace Bentz in the Oregon Legislature.
In January 2018, when Ted Ferrioli, the Republican who represented Senate District 30, was appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, commissioners from the counties in District 30 picked Bentz, then a state representative, as Ferrioli’s replacement.
Bentz’s appointment in turn left his House seat open, and Findley was picked to replace Bentz.
Findley was then elected to a two-year term in November 2018, running unopposed.
Findley's appointment to replace Bentz in the state Senate leaves Findley's seat in House District 60 vacant.
The same process to fill that vacancy should start soon.
The Oregon Legislature convenes for its abbreviated 2020 session on Feb. 3.
Mark Owens, a Harney County commissioner, has already filed for the Republican nomination for House District 60 in the May 2020 primary.