Every filing for Oregon's 60 state House seats matters, when you have a partisan balance as close as 31-29, which is where Oregon's is. Republicans are a tantalizing two seats away from outright recapture of the chamber they held for 16 years, and Democrats just five seats from a majority strong enough to enact financial measures without Republican assistance - a caucus shortfall that caused them no end of grief this term.
With the filing in, how does the picture look?
In sum, it doesn't look good for major change, unless a political tide even greater than 2006's sweep through in November.
Some of the gross numbers bode better for the Democrats than for the Republicans. Democrats filed a good many more candidates for House seats (all of which are up for election this year) than Republicans did; Republicans filed to file for 19 Democratic-held seats (two of those open seats), while Democrats ceded just a half dozen.
This has some significance all on its own, because so many Democrats are freed up from fundraising and campaigning to go help their brethren. And these are in areas not far from Republican districts where Democrats logically will be working hard. Four of the giveaways to Republicans are on the very-Republican east side. And there's this: While Republican leader Bruce Hanna will face Democratic opposition in the fall, Democratic leader Dave Hunt will not face a Republican. (Hanna will be heavily favored for re-election, of course, but he will be occupied with his own race.)
And the Republicans gave up on a number possible contests that might have worked. The two Edwardses, Chris and David (districts 14 and 30) just took over Republican districts last cycle, as did Brian Clem in district 21; they've shown themselves to be skilled candidate, true, but the lack of a challenge to any of them is surprising. It's true that Jefferson Smith (of the Bus Project fame) was a strong favorite from the moment he announced to succeed House Speaker Jeff Merkley in his district; but this is an open seat, and logically should have been challenged if only for the symbolism of it. No challenge either to some of the coastal and more rural Democrats (Jean Cowan, Deborah Boone).
Given all the give-ups, it's hard to see where the Republicans take back even as many as two seats.
But when you get to specifics, counting Democratic takeover prospects beyond maybe a couple isn't a lot easier.
So what are the jump-out races - the places where the partisan balance will be decided? (more…)