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Understanding the Kruse timing


Senator Jeff Kruse’s resignation is effective March 15th more than a month from now, even though he won’t be voting or participating in the current session. But that date wasn’t picked out of a hat. Working backwards is the best way to understand the timing, and you need to keep in mind statutes, the dates of the next general election and this May’s primary election.

March 15 is more than 61 days before the next general election (November 2018,) but less than 70- days prior to this May Primary.

Even though Mr. Kruse was elected to a four term in 2016, which would expire in 2020, because he resigned more than 61 days before the next general election in November 2018, there will be an election in November 2018 to complete the remaining two years of Mr. Kruse’s 4 year term.

ORS 171.051(4): Notwithstanding any appointment under the provisions of subsection (1)(c) of this section, when a vacancy occurs in the office of a state Senator before the 61st day before the first general election to be held during that term of office, the remaining two years of the term of office shall be filled by the electors of the affected legislative district at the first general election.

This is similar to when Governor Brown was elevated to Governor near the beginning of Governor Kitzhabers term and had to run in the next general election to complete the remaining two years of Kitzhabers 4 year term.

But unlike most general elections, since Senator Kruse made the effective date of his resignation just 61 days prior to the May primary election, there won’t be a primary election to select major party nominees for SD-1. Here’s the applicable statute.

ORS 249.200 Nomination by major party to fill vacancy in partisan office; exceptions; rules. (1) A major political party may nominate a candidate to fill a vacancy in a partisan elective office in the following manner:

(a) If the vacancy occurs on or before the 70th day before a primary election, by selecting a nominee at the next primary election; or

(b) If the vacancy occurs after the 70th day before the primary election but before the 61st day before the general election, by selecting a nominee as provided by party rule.

If Senator Kruse had resigned effective March 5th rather than March 15th, then nominations would have been decided in this May’s primary. That would have obviously caused havoc and I suspect neither the Democrats nor the Republicans wanted that. So don’t get bent out of shape because he delayed his resignation. It was done for election timing reasons. Not because he wanted to squeeze a few more dollars out of taxpayers.

Republican candidate selection: Because Senator Kruse is a Republican within about 30 days of his resignation, SD-1 will be filled by an appointed Republican who will serve until January 1, 2019. That person will be running – we assume- as the nominee of the Republican Party in November to complete the final two years of Kruse’s term.

Democratic Party candidate selection: The Democratic Party will nominate it’s November 2018 candidate under the same process as it uses to select three to five candidates to fill a vacancy in office, excepting that rather than three to five candidates, they will select only a single candidate as it’s nominee (Standing Rule 2, Section II).

Both of the legacy parties require that the nominees be members of their parties and the nominees will be selected by party officials.

The Independent Party: (You may want to refer to a new lexicon for independent voters to better understand the meaning of terms used here) Independent Party of Oregon rules don’t require that a nominee be a member of it’s party, and it’s leadership is intent on letting party members – and possibly even non affiliated voters – help select the Independent nominee. It’s rules for nominations are more flexible to take into account a variety of situations and to maximize the party’s ability to offer alternatives to voters and to influence election outcomes.

One input to inform IPO’s nominating caucus would be to utilize an online ranked choice voting architecture that could include not only independents or non affiliated candidates, but also the legacy party nominees and candidates. That could for instance maximize the influence of i/Independent voters by offering the Independent nomination to a Democratic or Republican candidate that most closely aligns with the voter center of SD-1. That nominee may also be the nominee of the Democratic or Republican Party.

Creatively Using election rules that legacy party elected officials wrote is one path for i/Independent voters and the IPO to influence elections. Guerilla politics.

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