Oregon Cities

After surviving recall attempt, Oregon Rep. Paul Holvey quits anyway

Oregon state Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, on the House floor in Salem, Ore., in this 2015 file photo.

Oregon state Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, on the House floor in Salem, Ore., in this 2015 file photo.

Casey Minter / OPB

A long-time state lawmaker from Eugene announced Thursday that he won’t seek reelection.

Rep. Paul Holvey is the longest tenured Democrat currently serving in the Oregon House. He was first appointed to the seat in 2004 and is now in his 11th term.

Holvey easily survived a recall attempt last fall by a union that was unhappy with the way he handled some labor bills. The union spent more than $300,000 in their failed attempt to oust him partway through his term.

Ultimately, just 10% of voters in Holvey’s district voted to remove him from office. The district covers much of downtown and south Eugene, as well as the University of Oregon campus.

But while Holvey vigorously defended his political record while fighting off the recall, less than five months later he’s apparently decided he’s through with life as a state lawmaker.

“It’s time for me to commit to personal and family priorities after serving in the State Legislature for more than 20 years,” Holvey said in a press release. “I am so grateful for all the years of support and trust from my community to represent them in the Oregon Legislature.”

On paper, at least, Holvey’s decision is recent. He filed to run in the May Democratic primary on Nov. 27, several months after the filing period opened but well in advance of the deadline to sign up for reelection. He officially submitted his withdrawal paperwork on Thursday morning at 11:35 a.m., citing “personal priorities” in a notice filed with the Oregon secretary of state.

But there was at least one sign Thursday that some in the Eugene political community knew about Holvey’s decision in advance.

Exactly 46 minutes after Holvey’s office issued a press release announcing his impending retirement, a Eugene-area attorney and community organizer, Doyle Canning, issued her own press release announcing her candidacy, complete with endorsements from several current and former Oregon elected officials.

This is Canning’s first run for the Oregon Legislature, but she’s competed twice in the Democratic primary for the 4th Congressional District, including a 2020 attempt to unseat longtime incumbent Rep. Peter DeFazio.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were no candidates who had officially filed for the House seat that Holvey currently occupies. According to the Oregon secretary of state’s office, Democrats hold an overwhelming registration edge in the district.

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