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Political Reporter

Dirk VanderHart


Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.

Dirk’s byline has appeared in USA Today, The New York Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Columbus Dispatch, The Oregonian, and more. He’s got a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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Recent Articles

News | local | Politics

Timber Unity Recall Effort Against Oregon Coastal Democrat Comes Up Short

The effort was a test of fledgling political group Timber Unity's might. It's the third time opponents have failed to recall a Democrat this year.

News | local | Politics

Oregon Secretary Of State Properly Rejected Ballot Measures, Judge Rules

The decision suggests Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno has wide latitude in deciding whether proposed measures pass constitutional muster. Opponents vowed to appeal. 

News | local | Politics | Health | Business

Oregon Cigarette Tax Supporters Reveal A Massive Early War Chest

The campaign for a tax increase has received nearly $9 million from seven health systems, suggesting a hugely expensive ballot fight awaits.

News | local | Politics | Nation | Election

Former Malheur Occupier Ken Medenbach Is Running For Congress

Ken Medenbach, one of seven people acquitted for his role in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, is running for Congress.

News | local | Politics

Oregon State Sen. Cliff Bentz Will Resign Early For Congressional Run

The announcement frees up Bentz to campaign full time, but leaves Senate Republicans without their climate change expert.

News | local | Politics

Oregon Lawmakers Hear New Proposal For Capping Campaign Contributions

Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, says his proposal eliminates undue influence in politics, but the idea will face plenty of critiques.

News | Environment | Politics | Climate change | local

Lawmakers Converge In Salem — And Climate Activists Are Waiting

Legislators meeting for committee hearings Monday faced renewed pressure to regulate greenhouse gases next year.

News | local | Politics

Smarting From Defeat, Oregon Democrats Sketch Ideas for Cap-And-Trade 2.0

In recent weeks, policy makers have floated an array of ideas for a new bill to regulate Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions. The bill is likely to include concessions to opponents. 

News | Water | local | Politics | Business

'OPB Politics Now:' The Rising Cost Of Pristine Water

The Portland region is headed for big fights over how it gets its water.

News | Transportation | local | Politics

As Talks For A New Columbia River Bridge Continue, Lawmakers Take Stock Of Past Work

Legislators from Washington and Oregon are getting a crash course in the scuttled "Columbia River Crossing" project — and thinking of what they might do differently this time around. 

News | local | Politics

'OPB Politics Now:' Rep. Greg Walden Calls It Quits, Washington Affirmative Action Debate

Oregon’s only Republican in Congress announced he’s retiring next year.

News | local

Portland Requested National Guard Troops For An August Rally. It Was Denied.

Documents reveal that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked for more than 100 National Guard troops to be ready to respond to an Aug. 17 rally. Gov. Kate Brown shot down the idea within hours. 

News | local | Politics | Election

Greg Walden, Oregon's Only Congressional Republican, Won't Run For Reelection

The decision could mark the end of three decades of public service and should set off a dog fight for Oregon's only reliably Republican district. 

News | Politics

First Battle Of Oregon Secretary Of State Race: What Should Cash Limits Be?

The top three Democrats vying for the state’s second-highest office are all planning their own proposals for limiting money. 

Land use | News | local | Politics

Oregon Secretary Of State Rejects Ballot Proposal On Immigrant Driver's Licenses

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno ruled that the proposal did not meet constitutional requirements. 

News | Politics

'OPB Politics Now:' Brown Recall Effort, Sondland Testimony, Wheeler Reelection Campaign

In this week's grab bag episode of "OPB Politics Now," OPB news director Anna Griffin and OPB political reporters Jeff Mapes and Dirk VanderHart discuss a newsy week in Portland-area politics.

News | local | Politics | Election

High-Profile Democrats To Square Off In Oregon Secretary Of State Race

With the addition of Rep. Jennifer Williamson, the Oregon secretary of state field now includes three Democrats who can run a viable campaign.

News | local | Politics

2 Efforts To Recall Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Have Failed

Oregon GOP chair Bill Currier said the effort came up just short, and he vowed to try again in coming months. 

News | local | Politics | Election

Monday Is Deadline Day For Campaigns To Recall Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Despite interest around the state, it's unclear whether either campaign can clear the high bar for forcing a recall election.

News | local | Politics | Election

'OPB Politics Now:' The Power Of Public Employee Unions In Oregon

Public employee unions have historically been one of the reasons Democrats enjoy a stranglehold on Oregon politics. But that might be changing.