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Oregon House GOP leader stepping down

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State Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, left, is stepping down after nearly two years as House Republican leader.

State Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, left, is stepping down after nearly two years as House Republican leader.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

Oregon House Republicans will have a new leader going into next year’s legislative session.

Amid rumblings that she could face a challenge to her role, House Minority Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, announced Thursday she will step down as caucus leader when GOP representatives meet to elect new leadership next week.

“My constituents, friends and neighbors in House District 59 have always been a top priority to me,” Breese-Iverson said in a statement. “I will have more time now for those efforts and to be the most effective Representative I can for the communities I serve.”

In her place, Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, a three-term lawmaker from Albany, is said to be considering a bid for Republican leader. Boshart Davis did not respond to a call for comment on Thursday.

Breese-Iverson assumed the role of House minority leader in late 2021, after former leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, stepped down to run for governor.

Her tenure marked a relatively placid period in the House. While Drazan and former House Speaker (and now Gov.) Tina Kotek often had an openly antagonistic relationship, Breese-Iverson and House Speaker Dan Rayfield, D-Corvallis, appeared to work well together.

As Senate Republicans launched a 42-day walkout this year, their counterparts in the House remained present in the state Capitol. Breese-Iverson and Rayfield ultimately played a role in striking the deal that would lead to the end of the walkout.

Under Breese-Iverson’s leadership, Republicans translated momentum in last year’s midterm elections into two additional House seats, breaking a Democratic supermajority that had been in place since 2019.

But Breese-Iverson also had her share of critics, some of whom grew wary about what they saw as the influence her husband, Bryan Iverson, had in her office.

Iverson is a political consultant who helped lead the GOP’s strategy in last year’s legislative races. Under that arrangement, his business, Iverson Media Group, wound up reaping money from a political action committee controlled by his wife — an arrangement that raised eyebrows on both sides of the aisle.

Iverson also has served as a staffer in his wife’s legislative office at the same time he also worked for Republican state Senators. He is currently running a political action committee designed to help pay for a legal challenge Senate Republicans are mounting as they seek to avoid penalties for walking out this year.

Tensions among House Republicans became evident in June, when Boshart Davis and state Rep. E. Werner Reschke, R-Klamath Falls, abruptly resigned from their positions in caucus leadership.

House Republicans already planned to meet on Sept. 26 to fill the roles left by those departures. Now it appears they will be selecting a new leader as well.

While she will remain a representative, Breese-Iverson’s time in the House could be limited. Her Prineville home sits in the district of Sen. Lynn Findley, one of six conservative senators who might be unable to run for reelection in 2024 because of this year’s walkout.

If Findley is not on the 2024 ballot — either because he is blocked by a court order or has lost interest in the job — Breese-Iverson appears to be a likely candidate.

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