Despite losing in state and local elections, Republicans hope to be competitive soon

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The 2020 election is over, and Oregon Republicans say that they did not have a good year this year on a state and local level. 

Deschutes County turned blue this year, with Phil Chang defeating Phil Henderson as Deschutes County Commissioner and Jason Kropf defeating Republican State Senator Cheri Helt in their race this year. 

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“So four years ago, it was a rough night for both the Deschutes County Democrats and the Democrat Party as a whole,” said Jason Burge, chairman of the Deschutes County Democrats. “Trump won by 3 or 4 points in Deschutes County, and we lost the White House and the Senate. But that night was the beginning of energizing the locals politically,” Burge said.

Judith Stiegler, a professor at Central Oregon Community College, agreed with Burge and added that the Democrats were successful due to messaging. 

“For the past few election cycles, the Deschutes Democrats have been strategic in their recruitment and support of candidates, as well as their engagement of voters, both Democrats and the large number of non-affiliated voters,” Siegler said.

“Additionally, they have worked with a variety of local organizations and groups in these efforts forming coalitions within the community to get out the vote. They have realized that the message is an integral part of the process, but that equally important is getting voters to vote.” 

Brandon Merritt, an officer with the Deschutes County Republicans Committee, was disappointed about this year’s election results. He believes the Republicans did not do so well in Deschutes County due to changing demographics. 

“I am disappointed in the election results,” Merritt said. “But it’s was inevitable given that there is a heavy influx of people from blue areas like San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, who come here to escape the problems that have occurred in those cities but they bring their Democrat attitudes with them, turning Bend and Deschutes into a replica of what they left.” 

In 2013, the Republican party in Deschutes County once had a 5,352 voter edge over the Democrats. Since then, however, the Democrats have gained ground and now hold a 1,356 lead over Republicans in the area. 

Despite not doing well on a state and local level, Merritt hopes that the Republicans can obstruct some of the Democrats’ most destructive legislation once the new legislative session begins. 

“The only thing Republicans can do is try to block legislation using the only tool they have, given the Democrat stranglehold,” said Merritt. “[Republicans] should walk out when necessary to deny a quorum. They can’t do it all the time, but terrible bills, like the carbon tax, needs to be stopped.” 

Merritt also said that for Republicans to be competitive in Oregon, Republicans must reach out and convince people to join their side. 

“First priority is to try to save Deschutes by reaching out to independents and non-affiliated voters and persuading them that our way is better,” Merritt said. “Oregon can only be saved by convincing enough voters that Democrat policies are destructive and inimical to their interests, and fielding candidates who can appeal to those voters.” 

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