Former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, a Republican who wasn’t afraid to use legislative tactics to leverage power for her caucus, will resign from the Legislature at the end of this month.
Drazan, of Canby, is running to be the GOP candidate for governor.
Her last day in the Legislature will be Jan. 31.
“I committed to serve with integrity and authenticity, to fight against policies that hurt people, to be accountable and honest,” Drazan said in a statement. “I found a broken political system where people served their own interests and advanced short-sighted, bumper sticker policies. I found abusive, entitled powerbrokers shamefully casual about the impacts their decisions had on peoples’ lives. I found gamesmanship that would turn your stomach.”
Drazan’s role as House GOP leader was marked by a particularly difficult working relationship with Democrats, especially former House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland. Drazan called for Kotek’s formal censure on the House floor earlier this year after the Speaker broke a deal granting Republicans an equal say in redistricting. Kotek is also running for governor and resigned effective Friday.
Drazan was first elected to the House in 2018 and rose to lead her caucus after less than a year on the job. Overall, her tenure as leader was marked by walkouts, accusations of bullying, bill reading and political bickering.
She led her party on a walkout to Reno in 2020 to block Democrats’ signature climate change bill. She also managed to use delay tactics, such as forcing bills to be read out loud, to slow the Democrats’ agenda and land her party an equal number of seats on a legislative redistricting committee.
“As House Republican Leader I led a unified caucus in opposition to partisan policies. I negotiated in good faith. I voted for bills that balanced interests. I worked for bipartisan solutions but refused to accept legislation that targeted sectors and communities,” Drazan said. “I led a walkout to stop an aggressive cap and trade plan that would have raised prices and harmed families and businesses. I stood for Oregonians who suffered during the pandemic. I fought for fair political maps.”
The Republican field for governor currently includes Salem oncologist Bud Piece, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, conservative campaign consultant Bridget Barton, Medford businesswoman Jessica Gomez and Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten, among others. Drazan is the only one who has served in the state Legislature.
House Republicans chose Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, of Prineville, to serve as their new leader when Drazan gave up the leadership post last year.
Drazan’s departure is the latest in a string of high-profile departures that will mean the state Capitol could be run in a very different fashion in upcoming legislative sessions.
Democratic lawmakers recently selected state Rep. Dan Rayfield, a Corvallis Democrat, to replace Kotek as speaker. On the Senate side, Senate President Peter Courtney, a Salem Democrat who is the longest-serving presiding officer and longest-serving lawmaker in state history, has also announced he is retiring at the end of this year.