Writings and observations

Number 60. Of 60.

Periodically around the national capitol, lists of legislative clout make the rounds – lists derived in large part from what leadership or committee chairmanship positions, or ranking-member committee seniority, positions one holds. Helps if you’re in the majority, which gets to give out the goodies of chairmanships and such, if you want to rise on such a list.

The situation would get complex in the Oregon House, which is evenly divided between the two parties. The chamber has co-speakers and co-speakers pro tem. But unlike the state of Washington House, which was in a similar position around a decade ago, the chamber also has co-practically everything else. Both parties have co-chairs of all the committees, for example. (In Washington, they split the committee chair spots between the parties, that being the subject of some tense negotiations.)

How well this will work will depend, of course, on how well the people get along. (Early indications are hopeful.) But this also means that, between party leadership and committee chair positions, there are a lot of plums to go around. Almost everybody in both caucuses gets to run, or co-run, something.

Everybody, it turns out, save one.

Just one Oregon House member has no such title. According to the Capitol Currents (public radio) news blog: “Only Yamhill County Republican Jim Weidner came up short. He’ll serve the 2011 legislative session as the sole state representative who can’t claim a Co-Chair or Co-Vice Chair spot. Weidner downplayed that distinction when I asked him about it today. He said he didn’t mind not having a leadership position, as that would allow him to spend more time with his family instead of at the capitol.”

Actually, that’s an ouch. As noted on Blue Oregon: “Clearly the GOP caucus doesn’t think much of Weidner. It’s up to his caucus and leadership to decide who gets committee co-chair and vice co-chair assignments–and the fact that they can’t muster up even one job for him is pretty pathetic.”

Last session, he was also the sole legislator to be given no more than a single committee assignment. This is developing into a pattern. Will his constituents (your scribe being one of them) take notice next election?

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