At least 41 of the 71 precinct committee persons from former senator Jeff Kruse’s District 1 are expected to converge on Coquille at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24, to begin the process that will ultimately lead to his replacement.
They’ll be gathering for a convention at the Owen Building, where they’re expected to vote on a slate of between three and five candidates to replace Kruse.
The day will begin with votes on the rules for how that selection will take place. In the end, the slate of candidates they select will be voted on by 15 county commissioners whose counties include portions of District 1, including Douglas, Curry, Coos, Josephine and Jackson. The commissioners’ votes will be weighted by how many District 1 voters are in their counties.
Each candidate must sign a form indicating if appointed, he or she will serve.
Douglas County Republican Party Chairman Fred Dayton said members of his organization hope a local will win the appointment.
“We believe that it is in the best interests of the citizens of Douglas County for that senatorial position to be held by a resident of Douglas County,” Dayton said.
One name very likely to wind up on that slate of candidates is state Rep. Dallas Heard, R-Winston. Heard has said he’s interested in the position, but he has also filed for reelection to his current House seat.
That could create a complication for the Republicans. If Heard is selected as senator, he will no longer be eligible for the House seat. If he wins the May primary for that House seat anyway, he’d be what’s called a “dead horse” candidate. According to the state’s election rules, his competitor, County Commissioner Gary Leif would be what’s called a “sore loser” candidate, meaning he would be unable to run as the party’s nominee in the November general election.
That would likely force the Republicans into yet another convention to select a slate of candidates for the House seat.