COQUILLE — State Rep.Dallas Heard, R-Winston, has been selected as the Republican nominee to replace former senator Jeff Kruse.
Heard won the nomination at a convention of District 1 Republican precinct committee persons in Coquille Saturday.
Heard’s name will be on the November ballot, along with a Democratic nominee, who will be selected at a future convention. If elected, Heard would take office in January 2019.
Kruse resigned this month following sexual harassment allegations.
Bill Currier, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, led the convention. He said the turnout at the event was the largest for a nominating convention that he had seen. Eighty-four of the district’s 130 precinct committee persons were in attendance.
In addition to voting for the nominee, participants at Saturday’s convention selected a slate of four candidates to fill the post until the end of the year. Heard was one of the four selected. The others were Marine and Navy veteran Karl Shank of Coos Bay; state Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford; and Winston realtor Valynn Currie.
The 15 county commissioners from the five counties in District 1 will meet to select one of those candidates to fill Kruse’s seat until the end of the year.
Other candidates who were nominated but not selected included Douglas County Republican Party Chairman Fred Dayton, Avann Weber of Roseburg and Stan Avery of Bandon. After speaking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution, Avery withdrew and gave his support to Brock Smith.
Each candidate gave a brief speech, and then they were asked questions submitted by the precinct committee persons. All were in favor of the Second Amendment and opposed to gun control. They were also closely aligned on pro-life abortion issues, property rights, their support for President Donald Trump and their opposition to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
Heard spoke passionately about timber jobs he said have been lost due to federal policy. He said people in Washington, D.C., view this area as nothing more than a public park.
“The federal government has stripped our pride away, and it is our job to take it back,” he said.
He said Salem is a horrible place filled with special interest lobbyists and said he would work not for them but for the people of his district.
”I’ll bleed for you every day,” he said.
Following his nomination, Heard spoke highly of Brock Smith, who he said is one of the most hardworking and intelligent people in the Legislature.
Brock Smith represents House District 1, covering southwestern Oregon from Brookings to Cave Junction to West Roseburg. He spoke about the importance of natural resource industries.
”We’re under attack, especially our natural resource industries ... that built our communities and are meant to sustain them,” he said.
He said he’s been “fighting in the trenches” for the natural resource communities of the state.
He said liberals in Salem support taxes, including a 16 cents per gallon gas tax, and he wants to see more Republicans in the Legislature.
”We need more red shirts in the building,” he said.
Shank said he recently retired and moved back to Coos Bay, where he lived as a kid. He served in the Marine Corps Reserve and served in the Navy for 18 years. He said he’s not only a “military brat,” but a child of immigrants from Hungary.
He said he’s frustrated seeing closed schools and businesses in his hometown, and watching his kids struggle, unable to buy a home. He said he sought the nomination as a way to make a difference.
”I could stay home and complain, or I could stand up and do something about it,” he said.
Currie has considered herself a Republican since 1968, when in her junior high class she was the only person who voted for Richard Nixon.
”I knew I was different, and I continued with that difference,” she said.
She described herself as a constitutional conservative, pro-life and Christian.
Dayton, who also served as Douglas County Republican Party chairman 40 years ago, and even did a brief turn as an appointee in the Legislature, said he’s watched the party grow. He believes it’s important for the nominee to be from Douglas County, where he said the Republican party has strength.
“In the 40 years that I have been involved, we started out as the minority party (in Douglas County), and we built up, and today we are dramatically the majority party. We elect Republican candidates,” he said.
Weber said he’s a veteran and NRA member who is “fed up” with the political system. He said America is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. A democracy, he said, is “mob rule,” and the “next step is socialism and communism.”
He had high praise for Trump.
“Mr. Trump is my hero. He promised to drain the swamp, but when he got there he found out it was an ocean,” he said.
In a speech at the beginning of the convention, Kruse threw his support to Brock Smith, citing his work on environmental issues.
Kruse criticized those who had accused him of sexual harassment, and called Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, who asserted he had groped her “a flipping liar.” He said Gelser’s description of an interaction on the Senate floor was not borne out by video taken at the time.
He said he stepped down because it was the best thing to do for the party, and he hopes he will be remembered for his body of work.
“It has truly been an honor to be able to represent southwestern Oregon,” he said.
He also thanked the precinct committee persons for their support and was given a standing ovation following his speech.