Lynn Findley has stepped once into Cliff Bentz’s seat in the Oregon Legislature, and Findley believes he’s the clear choice to do so again.
Findley, a Republican from Vale who represents House District 60, which includes Baker County, announced Wednesday that he will seek the Republican nomination in the May 2020 primary for state Senate District 30, which also includes Baker County.
That’s the Senate district Bentz, a Republican from Ontario, has represented since January 2018.
“I believe I am the right person to continue Senator Bentz’s work in the Senate,” said Findley, who has been a member of the state House of Representatives since January 2018. “I would hit the ground running. There would be no learning curve to speak of, which I think gives me a pretty good advantage.”
Findley’s announcement is the latest in a series of legislative maneuvers — a domino effect, basically — that started Monday when U.S. Rep. Greg Walden said he would not seek a 12th term in Congress representing Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District. That district includes all of Oregon east of the Cascades, as well as Jackson County and part of Josephine County in the state’s southwest corner.
Findley said Walden’s announcement that he would retire when his two-year term ends in early 2021 was “a shocker.”
“I think Greg Walden is an incredible legislator and a great guy,” Findley said.
Walden’s announcement prompted Bentz to declare his candidacy for Walden’s seat in Congress.
Because Oregon law doesn’t allow candidates to run for the state legislature and for Congress at the same time, Bentz’s decision will create a vacancy for Senate District 30.
And that’s the vacancy Findley, a retired BLM fire manager and city manager of Vale, where he grew up, hopes to fill.
The situation is similar to what prevailed 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 nine 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 said he respects Bentz’s decision to run for Congress, and he believes his fellow Malheur County resident is “very well-suited” to representing the 2nd District in Washington, D.C.
Findley said he believes it’s important that the legislator representing Senate District 30 should live in “far Eastern Oregon.”
The District includes all of Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Malheur, Sherman, Wasco and Wheeler counties, and parts of Clackamas, Deschutes and Marion counties.
Findley said that during his nearly two years as a state lawmaker he’s seen that some of his colleagues in Salem don’t have a keen understanding of how laws and regulations can affect Eastern Oregon.
He contends his experience, both as a resident of this part of the state and more recently as a legislator, makes him the “best fit” to represent Senate District 30 and advocate for the area’s interests.
“A decision that makes perfect sense in the northern Willamette Valley might make no sense at all in Eastern Oregon,” Findley said.
Findley’s committee assignments in the Legislature include vice chair of the House Committee on Revenue, co-vice chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Environment, House Committee on Veterans & Emergency Preparedness. He’s also an appointee to the Governor’s Wildfire Response Council.
Although Findley had already filed as a candidate for House District 60, he will have to withdraw his candidacy and refile for Senate District 30.