SALEM, Ore. — The southern Oregon lawmaker who led Senate Republicans through two contentious legislative sessions has now been replaced as leader of the caucus, according to a statement from Oregon Senate Republicans.
Senator Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, announced in early March that he would not run for re-election in 2020. He has served as the senator for Oregon's District 2 since 2012, rising to minority leader for the 2019 session.
District 2 includes Josephine County and the northwestern section of Jackson County; encompassing Grants Pass, Rogue River, Central Point, White City, and Eagle Point. The district has swung Republican for decades, and Baertschiger ran unopposed in 2016.
Both the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions saw Baertschiger lead Senate Republicans on a walk-out to deny the majority Democrats a quorum — first for the Student Success Act and its accompanying corporate activity tax, then for the first iteration of a cap-and-trade bill, and again in the most recent session for the new version of cap-and-trade.
The first walk-out won concessions from Democrats on other bills, though it failed to kill the Student Success Act. The second walk-out ended with Democrats conceding that they did not have the votes to pass cap-and-trade. The third ended at an impasse with Democrats unceremoniously wrapping up the legislative session as Republicans continued to shun the legislature.
Most recently, Baertschiger led Senate Republicans in urging Governor Brown to lift coronavirus restrictions on rural Oregon counties that have seen fewer cases.
According to Senate Republicans, Sen. Baertschiger stepped down as leader of the caucus, allowing them to elect Senator Fred Girod, R-Stayton, as the new minority leader.
"Fred is our senior Senator and will represent us well," said Senator Baertschiger, Jr. “He has my full support.”
Girod's District 9 includes portions of Clackamas, Linn, and Marion counties. He has been in the Oregon legislature for 15 years, alongside his dental practice the caucus said, citing his experience in small business as important to the current challenge posed by COVID-19.
“I am grateful for Senator Baertschiger’s hard work and look forward to leading not just the Senate Republicans, but Republicans throughout this beautiful state,” said Girod in a statement. “I am excited to work alongside the House Republicans at this critical time in Oregon’s history.”
“Senator Baertschiger has served his constituents and Oregonians well as the leader of the Senate Republican Caucus and I have enjoyed working together on issues our constituents care deeply about," said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby. "Senator Girod brings his years of experience in the Oregon Legislature to his new role as Senate Republican Leader and I look forward to partnering with him for the benefit of all Oregonians."