Oregon Senate Democrats pick new leaders for 2023 session

Democratic state Sen. Rob Wagner of Lake Oswego is on track to be Oregon’s next Senate president, following a private selection process by Democrats over the weekend.

Senate lawmakers will hold a formal chamber-wide vote to pick their president and president pro tempore on Jan. 9. But since Democrats held onto their majority in the Nov. 8 election, they have the votes to determine who will occupy the two top leadership posts. Republicans picked up a net of one seat, which eroded Senate Democrats’ supermajority.

Wagner, who lobbied for the American Federation of Teachers of Oregon and managed community outreach for Portland Community College’s nonprofit foundation before he was appointed to a Senate seat in 2018, just won reelection to his second term. He is currently the Senate majority leader.

Outgoing Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, is the longest serving lawmaker in the Legislature and holds the record for longest serving Senate president so the transition will be a significant change for many people who work at the Capitol. Courtney, who announced in January that he would not seek reelection, was first elected to the top leadership post in 2003.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp of Bend criticized Democrats for not working with Republicans to nominate a new Senate president.

“I am disappointed that Democrats first step in preparation for the 2023 Session is to designate a new nominee for Senate President without seeking any input from Republicans,” Knopp said.

At a weekend retreat at Gleneden Beach, Senate Democrats also chose Sen. James Manning of Eugene as their nominee for Senate president pro tempore.

Within the Democratic caucus, Senate Democrats picked first-term Sen. Kate Lieber of west Multnomah County as Senate majority leader.

Here are the other caucus leaders Senate Democrats picked:

  • Senate Deputy Majority Leader: Janeen Sollman of Hillsboro
  • Senate Majority Whip: Sara Gelser Blouin of Corvallis
  • Senate Majority Whip: Lew Frederick of Portland
  • Senate Assistant Majority Leader: Kayse Jama of Portland
  • Senate Assistant Majority Leader: Wlnsvey Campos of Aloha

— Hillary Borrud

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