A Primary Race Like No Other – Running for Office in District 42

By Karen Hery


The inner Southeast’s pride in being ever so unique gets one more boost and another notch in our not-like-anywhere-else persona this Spring when the primary elections roll through town.

For the Brooklyn, Buckman, Hawthorne, Sunnyside, Ladds and Kerns neighborhoods, this election isn’t just a primary for State Representative. For all intents and purposes, it is the election.

Known in some circles as “The Bluest Spot in Oregon,” this house district currently bordered by the river and 84 and stretching to Woodstock while just skirting Laurelhurst and Mount Tabor, has many more registered democrats than Republicans.

The District has

• 42,829 registered voters

• 25,072 registered Democrats

• 2,715 registered Republicans

•15,042 registered w/ a non-major party or not affiliated with a party


District 42 boundaries
District 42 boundaries

As has been the case for many election years, no Republican candidates are registered for the primary. Registered Democrats rather than all registered voters will end up electing the district’s next State Representative.

Twenty-four of the 60 House districts in the state have no Republicans running in 2014.  What makes District 42 unique is the number of candidates – six residents of the district vying for a spot in the State Legislature that pays $21,936 per year and a $123 per deim during legislative sessions.

The only other race in this Spring’s primary with so many candidates is the Republican bid for governor.

Rob Nosse, Labor Organizer for the Oregon Nurses Association; Teddy Kaiser, most recently Chair of Multnomah County Democrats and Don Gavitte, a social studies teacher at Grant High School, all put their name in the hat for State Representative last fall. John Sweeney, candidate for congress in 2008;

Dan Shaw,  political activist and Kathleen O’Brien, adoption lawyer, all jumped in just before the March filing deadline.

Without a significant Republican presence in the district, Democratic candidates for District 42 can be more true to their own political sensibilities and more closely match the desires of their Democratic supporters without having to be more centrist to capture Republican votes or to hold the seat in the next election.

Once elected, in the current environment of no term limits, the new representative will serve until stepping down as Jules Bailey has done to run for Multnomah County Commission.

Many influential politicians got their start in District 42, Beverly Stein who served in the late 80’s, early 90’s went on to become Chair of the Multnomah County Commission and now Senate Majority leader, Diane Rosenbaum, was also in a six person primary for District 42 in 1998.

With local political groups–  school PTSAs and neighborhood and business associations – reticent to endorse candidates, it’s a door-by-door and person-by-person campaign.

Outreach to well-networked opinion leaders willing to plant lawn signs and making the rounds of social and business gatherings is helping to get candidates entering their first political race or looking for their first political race success, more well-known.

What is well-known, at least by political insiders, is that the race to become the next District 42 state representative will be over after the May 20 primary with the winner elected solely by registered Democrats.

Hotly-contested House races that could go either to Democrats or Republicans in Hillsboro, Salem, Bend and Clackamas County will get most of the attention and money next fall. This spring there is a race to the finish before the finish for Democrats in District 42.

To learn more about the candidates, watch for the voter’s pamphlet in the mail or view it online at: www.sos.oregon.gov

A Primary Race Like No Other – Running for Office in District 42

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